Water, the Essence of All

Begin with a washing of hands, cleansing and purifying, before approaching the stove, as to an altar.

Pouring water into a pot, do you remember the source? Rain, clouds, rivers, streams, lakes, oceans …

Transformation, from elements and compounds and chaotic matter to life. Essence. Alchemy.

In your hands, a cook’s hands, water shape-shifts into magical forms: liquid, gas, solid.

Water …

Boils, blanches, poaches, simmers, steams, freezes …

Water …

Becomes soup.

Steam …

Becomes tamales.

Ice …

Becomes granitas.

Water …

Becomes you and me.

And water reflects the Earth and the moon, the mountains and the trees … miracles, really.

Just like soup. A miracle, too, when you ponder it.

Acquacotta
Serves 6

2 medium-size red onions, thinly sliced
6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 stalk of celery, finely minced
¼ t. sea salt
¼ t. freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch of basil, shredded
1 quart (4 cups) water
6 slices of Tuscan bread, toasted
6 peperoncini
1/3 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese
6 eggs

Sauté onions in the oil over medium heat until translucent and slightly golden in color. Add celery, salt and pepper and continue to cook on medium heat. Stir in the tomatoes and basil and cook for 15 minutes. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook for 20 – 30 minutes on low heat. Season with more salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Place a slice of the toasted bread in each of 6 small bowls. Bring soup back to a boil.

Sprinkle the bread with the grated cheese, put 1 pepper in each bowl, and break an egg over each slice of bread. Add the boiling soup to each bowl and serve as soon as the egg white is cooked.

[This post brings us to the end of our consideration of the four ancient basic elements: Earth, Wind, Fire, Water.]

The earth resides in the food we eat … and therefore in us.

© 2011 Cynthia Bertelsen

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4 comments

    • Vicki, Sue, thank you. I’m glad you liked the post.

      Kitty, no I didn’t take the pictures — they’re linked (if you click on them) to the Flickr accounts of the photographers. I would like to take pictures like this and am hoping to get a new camera one of these days and get started.

      Yes, the hand-washing ritual, so beautiful.

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