Sunday, December 03, 2006

Soup and Potatoes

The Soup website came up in a google search because I wanted to find an old Yiddish song my father told us about once: "Sunday potatoes, Monday potatoes, Tuesday and Wednesday potatoes. Thursday and Friday potatoes. But on the Sabbath for a change a potato kugel, Sunday once again potatoes. Oi, bread and potatoes, meat with potatoes, lunch and supper - potatoes, still and again, ..."

In my father's childhood, potatoes were about the only form of nutrition in a time of near starvation -- maybe a little bread was also sometimes on the table. "Fish potatoes" meant potatoes cooked in water that had once been used for cooking fish. A potato kugel was mainly potatoes too, but for the Sabbath, maybe there was a little egg and onion to flavor it. If you made kugel, you shared one or two eggs around the entire family.

When World War I started, as my father always told us, his mother made sort of a wall out of potatoes in a room of their house. She bought the potatoes in the fall so that the family wouldn't starve during the winter. Others with less foresight weren't so lucky.

In the village, everyone was hungry in war or peace time: but they still had a sense of humor. So we have the song about the long week of nothing to eat but potatoes. Day after day, nothing but potatoes. Bitter but funny.

When we were children, somehow my father still didn't think a meal was quite complete unless there were some boiled potatoes and some bread to eat with our meat and vegetables. We never really understood what he was describing: hunger. Maybe we still don't. He hoped we never would.

For the entire potato song in transliterated Yiddish as well as another great old Yiddish song about how the Tsar eats potatoes take a look at this page: SoupTale: YIDDISH POTATO SONGS. See if you don't think the whole Soup website -- -- somehow captures the old Web Spirit. I think it's been around since the Web was young, and I think I have run into it before.

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