It is below freezing in sunny, Manassas, Virginia and what could be better than a pot of freshly made chicken soup. Before I was relegated to the wheels, I was an avid cook. My mother was an avid cook. My aunts were avid cooks. My grandmother…anyways, you get the point. We’re Italian! I, as the rest of the second generation, were brought up in Queens or Brooklyn in the 50’s and 60’s. The neighborhoods in Queens were as much of a melting schmaltz pot as they came. Brooklyn? That’s Italian. I say “schmaltz” because my Queens neighborhood, off of Linden Boulevard in Cambria Heights, was a great mixture of Jews, mostly Polish and German, and Italian, mostly Southern. “Schmaltz,” is chicken fat, which is often rendered down to fry chicken livers and other wonderful Jewish foods. By the time I was 10, I didn’t care what I was…Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, it didn’t matter. Besides being a melting pot of religions and nationalities, there was also a melting pot of chicken soup.
On cold days, throughout the neighborhood, 217th Street, one could smell the incredible aroma of chicken soup cooking. I lived mid-block, so I could smell the soup cooking from the Riley’s, to the Karps, to the Rolantis. The big to do was always how the soup was made. My Jewish Mother, Marcia, concurred with my Italian Mother, Linda, that one had to add garlic. Mrs. Riley…not so much. But this discussion often went on during every coffee clatch in the neighborhood. Regardless, the soup was exquisite and yes, it warmed your body and your soul.
Come on over, I’ve got a pot on!