In the mythic lore of the Moveable Feast there is one story that is passed down from feaster to feaster – The Mystery of the Garlic Soup. Legend has it that in one of the earliest Feasts, possibly the very first, there was one dish that was so awful, so inedible, the feaster forbid the group from even lifting the cover from the cooking vessel. The vessel was merely brought as proof that the feaster had attempted the quest. No one ever gazed into the vessel or beheld the horrors within. Since that time, should any feaster have a doubt about the dish produced, they invoke the title of Garlic Soup to ward off any naysayers and critics.
Okay, so I’m no loremaster and never will be. But the truth is, using the disclaimer, “this is my garlic soup,” takes off a lot of pressure when you think you have utterly failed at cooking a proper (edible) dish. I think all of us have invoked this label at some point.
I remember making a dessert when we had a Moroccan theme. The recipe called for orange flower water. As I prepared the dish, all I could think of is, “this is awful, it’s like I poured a bottle of perfume over everything!” When I tasted the filling it was terrible, but it was too late, I was committed to the path and had to leave as soon as the dessert came out of the oven.
That evening, as I brought out the dessert, I made the announcement that this was the official Garlic Soup of the evening and proceeded to explain why. One of my fellow feasters told me about once making a cake that required rose flower water. When he smelled (and tasted) the cake all he could think of was “old lady bathroom cake” and never made it again.
In the end, the dessert wasn’t as bad or perfumy as I thought. It wasn’t my greatest triumph and it won’t be my last Garlic Soup either.