Monday, June 25th, 2012 | Posted by : marybeth
I grew up a tourist; visiting Door County for one solid week of heaven each summer. Two grandparents, two uncles, two aunts, two cousins, two brothers, two parents, two dogs and the occasional visitor, piled into a little cabin out by Cana Island Road, just a mile from the lighthouse. We gathered in the living area upstairs, with a view of the lake, too many bodies and not enough chairs. I couldn't tell you how many rooms there were in that cabin, us kids always stayed in the lower level "family room" on cots and pullout sofas, where we leaped from cushion to cushion, mountain to mountain. Were were mostly good kids then, though road trips didn't often bring out the best in us, Door County did. I don't remember the drive anymore; what I remember is mud soup.
For mud soup you must have a container to make soup in, and at our cabin on Cana Island Road, there was a large, black cauldron. The first thing to do of course is to fill your cauldron with lake water. So my brothers and cousins and I would take plastic cups down the smooth stones of our rocky beach and carry, one cup at a time, the filthiest water we could find. Sea-weedy, slimy, greenish-brown water from shallow pools between rocks was best. We avoided to much sand, having learned in previous years that sand mostly sinks, and soup – even mud soup – should have evenly distributed elements. Dirt was more fun anyway. With the same plastic cups we cut into the earth, clumps of roots holding the black soil together. We pulled grasses, picked berries, selected flower petals and leaves. We searched the woods, the yard, the beach, for sawdust and tree bark, for shells and lost crayfish claws, for mystical items that would make our soup thick and rich. We cooked cold mud soup for as long as daylight would have us.
I don't cook. Any number of my family, friends, and acquaintances can attest to that. I love food, I love the kitchen, and I do bake fairly often. But nothing in the world will ever match the magic of mud soup. My brothers, my cousins, and my hands covered in clay and sand and dirt, wild strawberry juice staining our everything. Someday, I will watch my own children make their very own recipe, I'm sure of it. And I will envy them.
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