After taking a look last week at how many people see foodies as elitists, I figured it was time to take it down a notch, highlight the fact that the underground foodie movement is often less about culinary complexities and more about keeping things simple. Growing your own food, buying local, eating seasonally, dining at food carts; these are all more about taking time to slow down and enjoy the essence of food than they are about tracking down the latest trendy sushi bar.
Maybe that’s why the latest hot topic that caught my foodie underground eye (thanks to – how else? – Twitter) is not just sharing food at markets, but actually getting together to trade homemade goods, in this case, soup. They’re called soup swaps, and in an age where people are more and more concerned with not only eating well, but also building community, the idea of sharing food is appealing.
It’s not the first time soup swaps have crossed my path – in fact, halfway through reading this article I remembered that I too had once been to a soup swap. I had a failed attempt at making a vegan potato leek soup, but that didn’t stop me from taking off with a backpack full of quarts of chili, chowder and other goodness that my friends who had actually mastered soup recipes, managed to concoct. But I certainly had no idea that I was taking part in a growing trend.
Nowadays there’s SoupSwap.com, a comprehensive website for swapping newbies that guides you through the logistics of hosting your own soup swap, an event that consists of making and bringing six individually packaged quarts of soup, joining in the “Telling in the Soup,” otherwise known as your-near-death-cooking-disaster-the-last-time-you-tried-to-make-this-soup, and of course, swapping the soup so that you go home with a variety of new things to try out instead of sticking to your winter basics. Given that the colder months are upon us, you’d be hard pressed to find an easier way to broaden your weekly menu.
Ultimately, soup swaps aren’t really about the product being served. They’re about connecting with people over one of our most time treasured traditions that brings people of all kinds together: eating. They offer the opportunity to put some time and love into a meal, share it with others, and spend a moment on focusing on real, human relations, something far from most of our everyday, busy, computer-driven lives. And what’s simpler than that?
Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground. Each week, Anna will be taking a look at something new and different that’s taking place in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to culinary avant garde.
Image: Magic Madzik