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Historical Soupnotes

Provencal poet Frederic Mistral runs away when his father threatens a hiding: "The sun began to go down in earnest, I was tired, I was scared. 'It's getting late,' I thought to myself, 'Now where am I going to find supper? I must go ask for hospitality at some farm.' And leaving the road, I slowly made my way toward a little shed, its manure ditch, its well, and its grape arbor, all nicely sheltered by a row of cypress trees. Timidly I went up to the doorstep and saw an old woman pouring soup, a kind of dirty woman, all disheveled, so that you would have to be really hungry to eat what she touched. The old woman had taken the pot down from the pothook, had put it on the floor in the middle of the kitchen, and while twisting her tongue and scratching herself, poured the broth with a big ladle and spread it slowly on thin slices of moldy bread. 'Well, grandmother, so you're preparing soup?' 'Yes,' she replied,' and where do you come from, little one?' 'I am from Maillane,' I told her, 'I have "ditched" and I come to ask you for hospitality.' 'In that case,' replied the ugly old woman in a peevish tone, 'sit down on the stairs so that you won't wear out my chairs.' And I crouched down on the first step. 'Grandmother, what do they call this place?' 'Pamparigousto.' 'Pamparigousto!' You know that when speaking to children of a place faraway people will sometimes call it Pamparigousto in jest. You can imagine that at that age I fervently believed in Pamparigousto, in Zibo-Zoubo, in Never-Never Land, and other fanciful places. So when the old woman mentioned that name, I felt a cold sweat run down my back, to find myself so far from home. 'Now then,' the old woman said to me when she had finished her work, 'that's not all, little one. In this country lazy people get nothing to eat. If you want your share of soup, do you hear, you'll have to earn it.' 'Gladly. And what must I do?' 'Look, we are both going to stand at the bottom of the stairs and play at jumping. The one who jumps the farthest, sweetheart, will have his share of good soup, and the other, if he wishes, will eat with his eyes.' 'I'm willing.' Not only that, but I was proud of earning my soup, especially while enjoying myself. 'It will be too bad,' I thought, 'if that old crab jumps farther than you.' No sooner said than done. With feet together we both took our places at the foot of the stairs--which in farmhouses, you know, are to the right of the door and very near the doorsill. "And I say "one"!' cried the old lady, swinging her arms to give herself momentum. 'And I say "two"!' 'And I say "three"!' I sprang with all my might and cleared the doorstep. But the old crook, who had only pretended, immediately closed the door, quickly shot the bolt, and cried out to me, 'Go, you rascal, go back to your parents, they must be worrying.'"

La Ruche, "The Hive," in Paris' 15th arrondisement, nurtures refugee artists Chagall, Soutine, Lipchitz, Zadkine, and others in the 20s: "When there was no food, the painters could venture out into the larger hive of Montparnasse to eat at Marie Wasilieff's cantine on the avenue du Maine. ...At the Wassilieff cantine one was sustained by soup, entree, a glass of white wine, and one cigarette--all for 50 centimes. A special cauldron of vegetable soup was kept to one side: Marie dispensed the nourishing potage free of charge to tthe truly indigent." [Source: William Wiser's The Crazy Years: Paris in the Twenties]

Soup crowns the defeat of Napoleon III: Hopelessly outfoxed by Bismark on the fields of international politics, Napoleon III is provoked at the point of peaceful victory on the matter of Spanish succession into declaring war on Prussia...and leaves gentle Empress Eugenie in charge as Regent. She quickly learns of the fast succession of his military defeats and returns to Paris from her haven at St. Cloud to meet with the Council of Ministers. Clanking around the dark and cavernous Tuileries Palace, Eugenie's secretary, Filon, describes the difficulty of finding food for his Empress who has not eaten in 36 hours: "I went by the Galierie de Diane and then down the stairs leading to the basement in the Pavillon de Flore where I followed the underground passage, badly lit--but where were the kitchens? I hadn't the remotest idea, but I followed the little rails which were used by the tiny railway to carry food up to the dining rooms...The kitchens were, in fact, under the rue de Rivoli and there I found a cook-boy, fast asleep, whom I wakened. return journey with the soup took twenty minutes; the soup was cold, and the Empress had fallen asleep in her chair." [Source: Filon's Souvenirs sur l'Imperatrice Eugenie, 1920]

Louis XIV snotting soup: The story goes that in his later years the French Sun King suffered a very bad tooth ache and his dentist botched the job of pulling his teeth so badly that he badly damaged the King's upper jaw and palate. The result? When the King tried to drink his soup, it would come out his nose.

Soup and the OED: On the occasion of Queen Victoria's Jubilee Year in 1897, the creators and workers on the massive Oxford English Dictionary project (1857-1927) threw a party to celebrate the progress that had been made, the project having completed Volume 3, the complete dictionary of words beginning with the letter C, which Queen Victoria had "graciously permitted" be dedicated to herself. And so, on October 12, as declared by Oxford University's vice-chancellor, a dinner was staged at Queen's College in honor of the OED's scholar-in-charge, professor James Murray, trumpetted in by a scholar performing a fanfare on a silver horn. What was served? Clear turtle soup...followed by turbot with lobster sauce, haunch of mutton, roast partridges, Queen Mab pudding, and strawberry ice. (Source, Simon Winchester's The Professor and the Madman.)

Cowboy soup: "Cook built up some soup that sure broke winters chill from our bones, my bunk seemed just a little warmer that night" (from Recipes from Cattle Drives and Cow Camps of the 1880s). What kind of soups? Mostly bean soups with bacon grease, potato soup with rice and bacon grease, and the famous Sonofabitch stew, made from the guts of a young steer, freshly killed during a cattle drive. In those days, one out of three cowboys were Mexican or Black; the average age was 24; and they drove longhorn cattle up the Chisolm and Western trails from Texas to Dodge City, Kansaa, for loading into the pens of the Sante Fe Railroad.

Lola Montez dances consommé into a Duke's lap: Legend has it that Lola (born Eliza Gilbert in 1818, Limerick, Ireland) grew jealous of the fame of her lover Franz Lizst, broke into a banquet he was hosting for royalty in Dresden, leaped onto the table and danced among the dishes, kicking a bowl of consommé into the lap of a Duke.

Ping pong ball soup: Englishwoman Rachel Millet, war hero and wife of a French diplomat, famously served VIPs in Bangkok a soup garnished with ping pong balls as a result of mispronouncing the Thai word for toast to her cook.

Tokyo gangland soup slaying: On 9/25/78, Tokyo police arrested 5 in a bizarre gangland killing that severed a gangster's hands and threw them into a pot of Chinese noodle soup in a Central Tokyo food stall to boil away the fingerprints. The bones were later thrown away and the remaining body buried on a mountain outside the city, but police cracked the case in the end.

Frederick Law Olmsted (landscape architect and creator of New York's Central Park) in a letter to his father John in 1/15/1864 while traveling in California's Bear Valley: "I don't think the Diggers [common name for Native Americans) are as bad a people as they are generally represented to be. I see a good deal of industry among them. I often observe both men and women very steadily employed in pounding acorns. A bread made of flour of acorns with grass hoppers seems to be the commonest food. They also make a soup of it, boiled in a basket, woven watertight. Of course they can't put it on the fire, & the boiling is effected by heating stones and dropping them in the soup. They are very ugly with hair like a heavy black fur shading their foreheads. Their children are sometimes bright and quite interesting. Babies are carried in a basket on the back, sometimes with a queer little penthouse over their heads."

King Henry IV of France, upon his coronation (1589): Je veux que le dimanche chaque paysan ait sa poul au pot, or "I wish that every peasant may have a chicken in his pot on Sundays."

Captain James Cook saved from death by dog soup: On his second voyage, intrepid explorer James Cook left England on The Resolutionin 1772 to circumnavigate the south pole in an attempt to discover Terra austalis incognito. In his sweeps south into icepacked Antarctic seas, he was forced to retreat to New Zealand, Tahiti, and Tonga, but kept returning to the ice. Finally giving up for the winter, he headed for Easter Island in February but fell deathly ill and was forced to turn his command over to Lt. Cooper. Only constant nursing by Surgeon Patten kept him alive, but it was the ordinarily prickly naturalist Johann Reinhold Forster who saved Cook by having his pet dog slaughtered and made into a broth, which was carefully fed to Cook, spoonful by spoonful.

Socrates uses "beautiful soup" to explicate The Beautiful: In Plato's Hippias Major dialogue, Socrates meets the renowned sophist Hippias, recently returned to Athens, who offers to help him answer a troublesome question posed by a houseguest about the meaning of The Beautiful. Hippias says: "We shall at any rate admit that whatever is appropriate to a particular thing makes that thing beautiful." To which Socrates replies: "But then my troublesome guest will continue, 'Then when a man boils the pot of which we spoke, the beautiful pot, full of beautiful soup, which is more appropriate to it--a ladle of gold or a ladle of fig wood?'" [Note that Plato uses the word etnos for "soup," a vulgar word from Greek comedy, definitely having a good laugh at Hippias' expense.)

Lord Nelson uses soup test to identify his men: During Lord Nelson's triumphant 1802 journey through Wales, he stopped at the Three Cranes Inn in Chepstow. When he was informed that one of his men was outside, he instructed the landlord to send the man a bowl of soup but not to give him a spoon. When the landlord reported that the man had emptied his tobacco tin and used it to scoop mouthfuls of soup, Nelson replied that such an action confirmed in his mind that the man was indeed one of his sailors, and he accordingly rose to greet the man and give him a gift of coins to buy drinks.

Dilligrout soup commemorates 1066 English coronation and beyond: Following his victory at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conquerer, Duke of Normandy, had himself crowned at English King at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day. But he held the celebration, waiting until he was joined by his Duchess, Matilda of Flanders. When she arrived, he had her crowned queen and followed the coronation ceremony with a lavish banquet prepared by the Royal cook, a Norman by the name of Tezelin. Tezelin specially created a simple white soup called Dilligrout and served it to the Royal couple. King William was so pleased that he presented Tezelin with Edistone manor at Addington. But not the end of story. This gift created a precendent that continued to be honored through the history of the realm: with each new monarch, the Lord of the Manor of Addington would present the soup on the occasion of the coronation. The name stayed the same, but the soup sure changed, progressing from "a mixture of almond milk, brawn of capons, sugar and spices, chicken, parboiled and chopped, etc." to "an herb pudding boiled in a pig's caul" for George IV, which was the last time it was served. When Frederick English, a diamond millionaire from South Africa took possession of Addington Manor in 1898, he applied to serve the Dilligrout at the coronation of Edward VIII but was turned down on the grounds that the custom had been discontinued.

Lady Caroline Lamb, butt naked in the soup tureen: This deranged and madcap wife of Queen Victoria's Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, not to mention sometime lover of the poet Byron, allegedly arranged a special birthday celebration for Lord M. in the ballroom of Brocket Hall--emerging from an enormous soup tureen without a stitch on. Legend variously claims that the full British cabinet was present...or "merely" assembled birthday guests.

Alphonse Daudet and terminal soup: Julian Barnes has translated the notebooks of 19th century French novelist Alphonse Daudet, discovering the esoteric and unsuccessful cure for Daudet's terminal syphilis by a Hungarian doctor who prescribed a breakfast soup made from vegetables and grains that affected him so volcanically that he said death was preferable. When Daudet finally did die, it was with a soup spoon in his hand. It was September 1897; he was dining with his wife and children in his Paris home talking about Edmond Rostand's "Cyrano de Bergerac," which had just gone into general rehearsal, when he took a few spoonsful of soup then, in mid chat, fell back in his chair and died.

Robert E. Lee's last soup: This great American general and Commander in Chief of the Confederate Armies retained during his lifetime the habit of eating his main meal at 3 pm, "the old-fashioned hour," as he called it--and always began it with soup. This could be Mrs. Randolph's oyster soup, turkey soup, or his favorite tomato-vegetable bouillon with sherry. On his death bed, however, he supped Beef Tea: "My dear Genl," Mrs. Lee wrote on October 10, 1870, to Francis H. Smith, superintendent of Virginia Military Institute, "the Drs. think it would be well for Genl Lee to have some beef tea at once and as I cannot get it at the market before night I send to beg a small piece." Alas, General Smith's offering had little effect on the Genl's heart: "Robert...always welcomes me with a pressure of the hand," said Mary Lee as she sat behind him in her rolling chair, and two days later he died." (From Anne Carter Zimmer's The Robert E. Lee Family Cooking and Housekeeping Book, 1997)

Civil War Soups: By all accounts, soup was the staple of soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War. "Bread and soup are the great items of a soldier's diet in every situation," said one general. "To make them well is therefore an essential part of a cook's instruction. Union General Silas Casey noted, "Soup cannot be too highly esteemed. It should be used more often than it is. ...Great care should be taken to boil it slowly and for a long time," while General Scott opined, "Bean soup, when properly made is one of the best that can be used. ...This eaten with a little pepper and vinegar makes a wholesome and palatable dish." The soldier's viewpoint was understandably different. A confederate soldier wrote in his diary on December 25, 1863, "My Christmas dinner was bean soup without bread. The boys are not seeing a good deal of fun." (From William C. Davis' Civil War Cookbook, 1993).

Louis XIV baits his brother with soup: Louis XIV, who governed Versailles with a velvet-covered iron hand, relentlessly forced his brother, the august Monsieur, to attend dinner each day by issuing him a formal and personal daily invitation...then one day teased him by splashing soup at his wig until, driven into a hot temper, Monsieur threw his bowl of boiled beef at the Sun King himself. Louis XIV's sister in law, the Duchess of Orleans, wrote of the King's appetite in a 1682 letter: "I have often seen the King consume four plates of different soups, a whole pheasant, a partridge, a large plate of salad, two big slices of ham, a dish of mutton in garlic sauce, a plateful of pastries followed by fruit and hard-boiled eggs. The King and Monsieur greatly like hard-boiled eggs."

1846 Donner party survivors sustained by terrible soups: When members of the Donner party set out across the Sierras and were hopelessly trapped for months by unprecedented snow, they began by eating their oxen, their pets, soup made from boiling hides, and even fur rugs toasted over the fire, only resorting to eating the flesh of their dead comrades when faced with starvation. When rescuers arrived in February of 1847, they found the survivors boiling parts of their comrades into soup. 48 of 89 in the original party survived.

"A terrible beauty is born" in Irish hearts and history during the Easter Uprising in 1916: Pádraig Ó Ruairc of Dublin notes, "During the Irish Rising against British rule at Easter 1916, the rebel leader James Conolly (commander of the Socialist Irish Citizen Army) had his ankle blown off by a richochet. His first words to his troops upon being rescued were: 'A cup of tea! I would dearly love a cup of tea!!!' One of the rebels promptly returned with a cup of Bovril Beef soup as no tea was available. Connolly refused to drink the soup as that particular brand was being manufactured with 'scab labour.'"

Straight reportage on Soup and the Terrorist Attack on NYC's World Trade Center: Tom Note, radio reporter for several NYC stations, describes the aftermath of the attacks on the twin towers on the morning of September 11, 2001--"The tragedy defies superlatives; radio and even television are limited severely in their abilities to describe more than the surface facts when things are this enormous. When the superhuman efforts of the fire department and other rescue personnel started to take their toll on exhausted bodies, St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village sent out an urgent plea. More than blood, more than money, what was needed was soup to keep these heroic women and men going, as well as insulated coffee pitchers to pour it from. Soup would keep longer, be transported more easily, and pack more nutrients into less volume than other comestibles. (There was also a call for Baby Wipes and tissues as the acrid smoke needed to be constantly wiped from burning eyes. Several other items you might not associate with rescue efforts were additionally requested, however soup and Baby Wipes seemed to be at the top of most lists for the first three days after the attack). As of Saturday the call for soup and other food and item donations has been called off, as a steady supply line of most necessary items has been established."

The Beauty Secrets of Exquisite Diane de Poitiers: Diane de Poitiers, mistress of French King Henry II and 20 years his senior, worked carefully to maintain her complexion and her King: "Summer and winter in all weathers, she would rise at dawn and bathe her whole body in ice-cold rain or well water. She breakfasted with a cup of homemade bouillon (later this was to be described as a magic potion--even by Brantome) before leaving at first light for a brisk three-hour ride through the woods and countryside around Anet." [Source: Princess Mechael of Kent's The Serpent and the Moon]

Lindbergh Sustained by Soup in Paris After Historic Flight: "Lindbergh had been forty hours without sleep. He was driven to Ambassador Herrick's residence at 2 avenue d'Iena for the luxury of a first bath, a meal of bouillon, poached egg and milk; then to bed by 3 a.m. wearing the ambassador's silk pyjamas." [Source: William Wiser's The Crazy Years: Paris in the Twenties]

Joseph Stalin's Soup Jokes: Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was reported to have announced to his dinner guests one night that he had just served them soup laced with deadly poison. What a funny guy.

Civil Rights Soup: Nonviolent civil rights activist James Farmer began the long trek to equal rights for African Americans in the U.S. when he staged a quiet sit in with Bayard Rustin at the segregated restaurant Jack Spratt Coffee House in Chicago in May 1942. The two men waited for 6 hours to be served the soup they had ordered. Finally the manager brought out a steaming tureen and pour it over them. This episode is credited with beginning CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality.

Fragile friendship soup with the President of Russia: On 2/23/01, Robin Munro of the Moscow Times reviewed Irene Pietsch's book Fragile Friendship, which recounted Mrs. Pietsch's friendship with Vladimir and Ljudmila Putin, including the detail that Ljudmila Putin cooked soup for them all during a week vacation at the Putin's Arkhangelskoye dacha. Mrs. Pietsch herself has been kind enough to elaborate, noting that in 1996, she "had cooked (among others) a carrot cream soup for Ljudmila Putina and her daughters, when they came for a dinner party to my place. The following year (1997) Ljudmila Putina served a sorrel soup in her home, when my husband and I were guests of the Putins." Mrs. Pietsch's book was published by Molden in Vienna.

Gruesome soup at Pearl Harbor: Former sailor Bill Rey recalls the terrible moments on the USS Pennsylvania on December 7, 1941, when the ship was hit by Japanese bombs. "The cooks started early in the morning, and they're making soup in those big kettles. You could take a bath in those things. Well, anyhow, this fella was stirring the soup, and he had his hand over there stirring it, which we didn't know. But at 11 o'clock (three hours after the attack), they gave us soup and apples and sandwiches. Well, when they got down to the bottom, they found his arm in the soup. And it took me 12 years before I could eat soup again." (Arizona Republic, 5/20/2001)

Holocaust survivor highlighted soup largesse of Oskar Schindler: Leopold Pfefferberg Page, who survived the war by working as a welder in Schindler's munitions plant in Brinnlitz, made it his mission in life to publicize Schindler's wartime efforts, which were largely unrecognized. He ultimately interested writer Thomas Keneally into writing the book from which Steven Spielberg's movie was made. Page, who died 3/13/2001 in Beverly Hills, brought the script alive with his memories of Schindler greeting all his Jewish workers at Brinnlitz with hot soup and bread, assuring them they would survive.

Lewis and Clark provision themselves with "Portable Soup": In Undaunted Courage, Stephen E. Ambrose chronicles the outfitting activities of Captain Meriwether Lewis in 1803 before setting out with William Clark to search out a land route to the Pacific: "In mid-April, Lewis set off to the east. He stopped first in Frederickstown, where on April 15 he wrote General William Irvin, superintendent of military stores, with headquarters in Philadelphia. Lewis said he wanted Irvin to purchase for him some necessary articles. First on the list was "Portable Soup", a dried soup of various beans and vegetables that Lewis may have used during his travels as an army paymaster. In any case, he was enthusiastic about it. He told Irvin, "Portable Soup, in my opinion, forms one of the most essential articles in the preperation [for the expedition], and fearing that it cannot be procured readily in such quantities as is requisite, I...take the liberty to request that you will procure two hundred pounds of it for me," or however much was available on the market. "I have supposed that the soup would cost about one dollar pr lb; should it however, come much higher then quantity must be limited by the sum of $250 as more cannot be expended." In the end, Lewis spent $289.50 on 193 pounds of portable soup, by far the largest sum for any area of provisions. He spent as much for dried soup as he had originally estimated for his instruments, arms and ammunition."

Indira Gandhi wows Japanese PM with her soup insight: In the early 1980s, when Indira Gandhi visited Japan, she attended an evening meal hosted by then Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki. A clear soup was served in a dark bowl painted inside with pictures of the bamboo tree. Only a few vegetables and one single pigeon's egg were floated in the broth, leaving the bamboo design visible. Mr. Suzuki asked Mrs. Gandhi what she thought of the presentation. Instantly she replied: "To my eyes, it [the egg] is a full moon shining over a dark forest on a clear night." Japanese officials sat up, completely amazed at the accurate and spontaneous reply.

Postwar faux pas: Christopher Cox of West Sussex recalls the story of a Dutch teenager who, when Holland was liberated at the end of World War II, was sent to stay with a wealthy family in Kent to learn English. During a lull in the conversation at a smart lunch party, he was heard by all to remark to his hostess, "F - - - - - - good soup." He was completely unaware of his faux pas: it was one of the only words he had picked up from the occupying British troops.

Soup used as vessel of biological warfare to poison Bulgarian king between wars: In 1925, a palace chef allegedly put typhus germs into soup served to Bulgarian King Boris III. The King became extremely ill, causing marked excitement throughout the Balkans. Royal doctors insisted that the King suffered only a gastric disturbance due to the existing heat wave, but the full weight of the police force was dedicated to finding the chef...unsuccessfully, in the end.

Soup in London during the Battle of Britain: On 9/7/1940, German planes began dropping bombs on London--wreaking destruction and causing shortages everywhere. One survivor recalls a bright spot in the 10-week blitz: despite pitiful rations, some London restaurants stayed open for friends to meet and find comfort, offering for a few shillings red beet soup and cooked rations. (Daily Telegraph, 7/26/00).

Revenge of Yavapai Warriors Who Were Refused Soup: The story of Olive "Cloudwoman" Oatman began in 1851 when, as a 13-year-old child, she and her large family left their wagon train and made their own way to California. While eating a sparse meal of bread and bean soup on a remote Arizona plateau, they were joined by Indian warriors. When her father refused to share the soup, the offended warriors massacred the family with spears and clubs. Olive and her little sister Mary were taken as slaves; brother Lorenzo was left for dead. Olive and Mary went on to be traded to Mojave Indians for 2 horses, vegetables, beads, and 3 blankets--where they were adopted as Mojave children. Ultimately Mary died of famine and Olive was traded back into white society, where she toured the country promoting her experiences before marrying and disappearing from public view.

Captain Cook and Portable Soup in 1772: Anxious to secure whatever nutrition for his crew that he could, Captain James Cook took cases of "portable soup," or soup-cake, on his 3-year voyage around the world. The oblong cake was was "made by boiling and evaporating the most putrescent parts of the meat to the consistency of glue." Some sailors were flogged for refusing to eat it. One of these odd little now resides in the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, Engand. It's said that Sir Jack Drummond tasted a bit of it in the 1930s--reporting that it had "changed very little."

Blood Soup and Treachery: William Laird recounts in Karluck: The Great Untold Story of Arctic Exploration the underside of Canadian Vilhjalmur Stefansson's triumphant mapping and exploration of the Arctic in 1913-18. Although hailed as a hero and awrded the Hubbard Medal, Stefansson is exposed as abandoning the crew of his ship, the Karluk, in the early stages of his expedition. Unable to return from his 10-day sojourn to trap carabou, he left the crew to subsist for 6 months on blood soup, rotting blubber, belt leather, seal flippers, and bird egg. Only 14 of the original 25 members survived--including the author of the book, William Laird, who waited over 60 years to tell the gruesome story.

Poisoned Soup, Hanged Cooks, and the Mutiny: Charles Allen recounts in Soldier Sahibs the story of a hot night during the Indian Mutiny when Brigadier General John Nicholson strode into the British mess tent at Jullunder, coughed to attract the attention of the officers, then said, "I am sorry, gentlemen, to have kept you waiting for your dinner, but I have been hanging your cooks." He had been told that the regimental chefs had poisoned the soup with aconite. When they refused to taste it for him, he force fed it to a monkey--and when it expired on the spot, he proceeded to hang the cooks from a nearby tree.

"Er naderd' ons van Frankrijks grens
een troep,
die vroegen voor hun mager pens
de soep !!"
[or, Once came from the French border/ a troop,/ they asked for their meagre belly,/ the soup. (etc.)]

This verse originated in 1796, when the French-- after their revolution and still several years before Napolean rose to power--invaded the Netherlands. Some welcomed them as liberators who would change the regime, once a great power, from the rotten republic they believed it had become to a more democratic one. Others, though--and the ones singing this verse--despised the invading mob, which was both ill fed and ill dressed. And, truly, when the French soldiers outfitted and fed themselves at the expense of the Netherlanders, the French sent more of them. Many thanks to W. H. van der Molen for contributing this piece of soup history.

Baden-Powell and Horsemeat Soup: Robert Baden-Powell provoked joyful celebrations in London when, as a young colonel in South Africa's Boer War, he led the defeat of the 9-month Afrikaner siege of the British military garrison at Mafeking. History, however, has not been kind as one of his measures was to order a mass evacuation of the garrison's black members--a racist "leave or starve" policy that resulted in hundreds of deaths when evacuees were either shot to death by Boers or starved. New sources, however, indicate that he realized his mistake almost immediately, ordering remedial measures that stocked emergency kitchens with horsemeat soup. Unfortunately, not before many deaths occurred.

Buttocks Soup and the Case of the Tokyo Cannibal: On an evening in late March 1902, the body of an 11-year-old boy was found in a vacant lot near Yotsuya Station in Tokyo. An autopsy revealed that the boy had been smothered, but also noted an 18 cm. x 14 cm. strip of flesh missing from the boy's left buttock. Although the case was never proven, police identified Noguchi Osaburo, an eccentric university dropout who was later executed for another murder, as the likely killer. His mentor and future father-in-law, poet Noguchi Neisai, had been suffering from leprosy...and Osaburo knew that an old Korean folk remedy for leprosy called for soup using the flesh taken from the buttocks of a young child.

Popes and Soup: In Buon Appetito Santita! (1999), Mariangela Rinaldi and Mariangela Vicini reveal that Pope John Paul II is no longer the trencherman he once was, now subsisting only on soup, cheese, white meat, vegetables, and white wine. Hadrian VI (1522-23), from the Netherlands, ate only soup, fish, and apples.

Al Capone in the Soup Kitchen: It was the Depression in the 1930s, and Gangster Al Capone shocked the city fathers by setting up Chicago's very first soup kitchen. He paid $350 a day out of his own pocket to feed as many as 3,000 unemployed people. Rumor is, he was motivated less by human kindness than to keep people from turning in evidence of his criminal activities.

The Lapps of northern Scandanavia largely remained nomads right into the 20th century. How did they survive? Entirely off their reindeer herds, except in summer when fish was an option. A family of six would go through a reindeer a week, boiling the organ meets with the tongue and the tail into a soup and making jerky out of the meat. Today Lapps are mostly settled and integrated into society.

In 1930s Govan, Scotland, the story goes, a well-meaning upper-middle-class lady lectured the wives of the unemployed at the Pearce Institute on how to make a pot of soup with a cod's head. At question time, an old lady asked, "Missus, whit happened tae the rest o' the fish?"

M. Boulanger, signalling the post-revolutionary end of great aristocratic kitchens in France and the beginning of chefs making themselves commercially available for the masses, put a sign (in Latin) outside his Parisian soup restaurant in 1765, saying "Venite omnes qui stomacho laboratis, et ego restauranto vos." [or, "Come all ye who labor with the stomach, and I will restore you"]. Thus today's word "restaurant" from restauranto.

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) really didn't want to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel--and even asked Pope Julius II to excuse him from the project. According to Michele Saponaro, in Michelangelo, "He feared he would prove unequal to the task...he despaired of his talent, fortune and future." Soon, however, Michelangelo became so obsessed by the project that he refused to leave the scaffolding and forced his servant to climb up on it to bring him bread and a bowl of soup for his meals.

William Vincent Astor, American socialite, used to hire an actor for his dinner parties to pose as a waiter. For "fun," he would have the actor first spill soup on a chosen dinner guest...then abuse him.

Records show that English colonists in Jamestown became so desperate for food in their early days that they were forced to boil into soup the mastiff dogs they had brought along to protect them from Indian attacks.

According to George Lang in his Compendium of Culinary Nonsense and Trivia, ladies in the Court of Louis XI were so vain that they lived almost exclusively on broths and consommés because they thought that chewing food would distort the face by developing ugly facial muscles.

In the Middle Ages, cooks were revered as the artists they were. On state occasions, they would join processions into the Great Hall, carrying the first dish to the table. Otherwise, as a mark of their rank, they would carry a great wooden spoon--to taste the soup and to chastise the assistants.