Soups of America
Protoype packaging from 2016
When I began producing this cookbook series for author Deanie Bahan I realized that it could be a genuine platform to begin a new conversation over the Soups of America™. After I met her, while purchasing her Perfect Gumbo Spoons®, we kindled a warm friendship. A great conversation began then, and it started with a spoon! We’ve had political, moral and philosophical conversations ever since. Each one reminds me of the importance of “coming to the table.”
In Soups of America™, we’ve explored three distinct regions of the United States – the North, the South and the West. In chowder, gumbo and chili we identified three completely indigenous American dishes that emerged effortlessly from these regions as cultural and environmental symbols of home. Chowder as food for the revolutionists, gumbo as a pioneer’s last resort, and chili as the dish of an evolving Texican culture that expanded into the vast Wild West.
But inside these conversations about the Soups of AmericaTM, I explored the implications of a more serious American conversation. Patriotism doesn’t rest in government or politics, it resides in the minds of humble Americans and their perceptions of their fellow citizens. While the axiom of this conversation may seem rather simple, it strikes a sacred chord. “I’ll try your chowder, if you’ll try my gumbo!” In doing so, you honor my culture and I honor yours.
When I cook chowder now, I’m reminded of hungry soldiers preparing for battle against a tyrannical government. When I cook gumbo, I’m reminded of pioneers and immigrants forced to throw everything in a pot to survive the rigors of survival in the developing South. And when I put together a chili for a family gathering, I see anew the Wild West and its deep Mexican roots as a symbol for the modern, blended American culture that we see today.
Chili is the last totem of this series and it is also the most-famous American dish that we’ve explored to-date. Chili spans the entire country. From cookoffs in Miami and Spokane to restaurants in San Antonio and Cincinnati, it has earned its right as the patriotic red to the Soups of America™.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed Deanie’s account of this dish and look forward to the time when families can come together over chili, gumbo or chowder to begin their own patriotic conversations about the people and places that make up our home. In Soups of America™ great conversations begin with a spoon.