In my house, November is soup month. I have it at least once a day and often twice. On Sunday I ate it for breakfast and dinner (Saltie’s mulligatawny and my miso-dumpling, respectively). On Monday I ate it for lunch and dinner (Fairway’s chicken matzoh ball, both times). On Tuesday, a friend and I ate fish stew and oyster bisque codependently at Chelsea Market’s Cull & Pistol.
The weather is not even that bad yet—temperatures are mostly in the 30s and 40s—but New York buildings have yet to adequately kick in their central heating. And since a wintry clime always creeps up with all the insidiousness of an unwanted neighbor, none of us have had a chance to develop our thick skins, figuratively or literally. Hence: soup, the Earth Mommy of all prepared foods.
Today I bundled up in a big fur hat, two mufflers, fingerless gloves, cashmere tights, and 19th century-style clog boots, and bustled into the city to screen Mauvais Sang at Film Forum. A 1986 Leos Carax neo-New Wave movie set, punnily enough, during a French heat wave, it stars Julie Delpy, Juliette Binoche, and Denis Lavant. This is what it entails: pantomimed fisticuffs and ventriloquized flirtation, silent stares and empty declarations, steamy nights and boiling pavement, teary tough guys and blank beautiful women, dangling cigarettes and smeary lipstick, snow-white and rose-red (not to mention black and blue), and—oh! oh!—David Bowie’s “Modern Love.” In short, it is a sweat lodge of a film, just what the doctor ordered. To collect myself afterward, I ducked into a West Village ramen bar and slurped an enormous bowl of noodles and broth and pickled eggs and cabbage and bamboo shoots and chunks of pork.
I never once took off my big fur hat, let alone my two mufflers.
Tonight I am preparing a split pea soup with a ham hock. In my witchy cauldron I will toss every root and green vegetable in my larder, including a frond of fennel, and I will listen to an audiobook of Chekhov short stories as I do so. Really, I’m doing the best I can, especially given that I resent any weather that demands so much of my attention. Who knows? I eventually may plaster a grin back on my puss, if not on Lady Garbo’s.
Mauvais Sang screens at Film Forum November 29-December 5. It’s sure to warm you up.
Lonely Coney Island on the first day of November. The seagulls rule the school; the beach is shockingly swept; the borscht and blintzes are there for the taking. We remove what litter we find; make wishes and shyly feed them to the sea. The wind whips around us with gusto; the sun dips in and out of sight; the rides stand still like dogs awaiting unreliable masters. In Brighton Beach we find half-sour pickles, caviar, black bread, and, finally, prune chocolates, the candy forever in my grandparents’ blue dish. The Proustian madeleines of my wilderness of a childhood, writ large in a Russian’s lady hand.