Every time I see a bowl of French onion soup (which I have recently done), I am reminded of a day in Nairobi that I spent with my daddy when I was in high school. I don’t remember why he was there without mom. To my memory this was the only time we ever spent the day in Nairobi alone together. I rode the school bus into town, and he met me at the parking lot where the bus would let us off. I am not sure what he had on his agenda that day, but I remember spending a fair amount of time in areas of Nairobi I didn’t usually go when I shopped with my friends. I honestly don’t have any recollection of any of the places we stopped. I only remember that Dad had a long list of things to accomplish and was feeling the urgency of time passing. I recollect the fast clipped walking that took place from one stop to the next. Dad had a tendency in those days to approach life as a race to be won. I tried to keep pace with him, but invariably the further we got down the street, the wider the gap became between him and me. About the time I would get ready to call out to him he would notice I was not next to him, and he would stop, turn, and wait for me to catch up. Finally he took my hand in an attempt to not lose me in the crowd, and I did my best to keep my feet under me as he dragged me along. (Actually, I am also reminded of that day any time I try to shop with my youngest son. He has the same determination to run the legs off my body.)
So what in the world does this have to do with french onion soup you may ask. The soup came in when we stopped for lunch. We ate at the Intercontinental Hotel, also not a place I usually went with my friends. It was rather posh compared to the places we usually ate, which is probably why it sticks out in my mind. I ordered French onion soup. I have no idea why I was inclined to order that particular entree. Perhaps it was that it sounded fancy to me. At any rate, it is what I ordered.
I have to say that my impression of French onion soup hasn’t changed much since that day. I found it to be awkward to eat. How are you supposed to delicately cut through that cheesy bread without making all the juice slosh out from underneath? It is beyond my coordination. Not only that, I never found the broth to be as wonderful as my mind thinks the combination of onion, bread and cheese should be.
All that aside, this memory has made me in love with the idea of French onion soup. In spite of the rapid pace and messy food, I loved being with my dad in Nairobi. I loved that he made time for me in his busy day, and took me to a fancy restaurant for lunch. I probably won’t ever order French onion soup again, because, honestly, I don’t like it. But that won’t stop me from smiling when I see it featured on a menu or cooked on a cooking show.
We have these moments.