Musical pairing – I Hope You Dance by Lee Ann Womack

They say a picture is worth a thousand words but I’m here to tell you that a recipe or a meal is also worth a thousand words.  For some, that dish might be a special birthday cake, cinnamon rolls or bread; to others it might be a meatloaf, pot roast or onions and garlic sauteing in a skillet.  A particular scene in Ratatouille captures this point so well – the hardened, stoic, food critic Anton Ego, takes a bite of Remy’s simple Ratatouille and the audience is immediately transported back to Ego’s childhood home where the boy Anton is served ratatouille while being comforted by his mother.

And for me, this bisque is one of those dishes.  I know it’s officially fall when The Professor breaks out the dutch oven, grabs a butternut squash from our garden and picks an armful of pears from our tree.  The first time he made this bisque, I was in Washington staying with my parents – my dad had been diagnosed with cancer a couple of months prior and I was helping them pack for a move.  I remember The Professor calling very early in the morning to tell me he had found a delicious recipe for a bisque that had pears and butternut squash in it . . . I also remember thinking that the recipe didn’t sound very appealing.  Notice I said I thought – I didn’t say I voiced my opinion – which is shocking I know, but he was cooking for me again, so don’t rock the boat, right?  (Plus, he was making his case for vegetarianism.) But I also remember coming home to this fabulous fall bisque – and The Professor has made it every single year since 2000.

In writing this post, we discovered something new about our relationship – he’s all about the tried and true familiar recipes while I’m all about flipping through my mountain of food magazines and/or cookbooks discovering unique and exciting ones.  He’s always the one to make Black Beans and Rice, grilled cheese sammies with tomato soup, scrambled eggs, grilled pizza, the Thanksgiving smoked turkey breast and this butternut pear curry bisque; he follows the recipe to. a. tee; always measuring exact amounts, never eyeballing an ingredient – meticulous and precise.  I, on the other hand, am racing through the directions, capturing the essence of a recipe and then I’m off doing my own ‘loose’ interpretation; and I have only a handful of recipes I’ve made more than once.

We’re all connected through food in one way or another; and while it would appear that The Professor and I would clash in the kitchen, we actually compliment one another.  There are times when I’m in charge and he’s the sous chef; then he’s in charge and I’m the support.  That is the dance.  That is the magic.  And that is how all of us create our own individual memories and stories.

What favorite food takes you back to a particular memory?


  1. Pingback: Tri-Colored Irish Vegetable Terrine and Butternut Pear Curry Bisque « Camille Cooks

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  3. Mmm, this sounds great! I need to get myself some butternut squash asap!

  4. Pingback: Weekly Dinner Menu: 10/11/10 | Food for My Family

  5. This looks so good, and I need to add it to my menu. I’m feeling run down after BHF and need some hot soup to soothe and recover with.

  6. I think this will have be the soup of the holiday this Thanksgiving season. It sounds awesome!

  7. So many yummy fall flavors in this soup.The pear adds something very unique & very tempting! So psyched to see you later this week in SF 🙂

  8. What a beautiful story.

    We’re somewhat similar to you and The Professor. I’m more of an “anything goes” kinda gal. Sometimes successful, sometimes not. But for me, half the fun is in the experiment. Mr. RGBistro’s philosophy is more like “I’m gonna bust out my 1972 Turkey stuffing recipe.” And then he does. It’s written by hand. On paper that’s so thin it’s see-thru. And to make it, he pulls out the knife his mother presented him as a going-away-to-college gift… from 1968.

    To answer your question, a favorite food that takes me back to a particular memory is a Vietnamese strawberry and cream cake my parents used to buy me on my birthday. I think I mostly loved it because I only got it once a year. And every year, it was the same cake. What made it special was the memory of my parents piling my brother and I into the back of an old hand-me-down station wagon so we could make the 45-minute drive to the bakery. And because it was MY cake, I got to keep it on my lap the entire way home, asking my parents to “please hurrry!” because I didn’t want my cake to melt in the June heat. :o)


    P.S. I found that cake recipe from a Vietnamese blog (Andrea’s at http://www.intothevietnamesekitchen.com) just this summer and tried it. Still trying to master it, but I’m almost there!

    Edit: Andrea’s site is http://www.vietworldkitchen.com. “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen” is the title of her book I used two nights ago to make a Vietnamese feast for friends.

    My brain is getting mushy.

  9. I must confess, I love the Professor’s food choices! Comfort is what they exemplify. And this bisque is delightful. I love the combo of flavors!

  10. So true…, we are all connected through food in a way and this is a lovely post. Love the recipe, never had this flavour combo so…. must have 🙂 Thanks for sharing.

  11. The addition of pear nectar is mad brilliant! Fall’s here and this looks delicious.

  12. I LOVE THIS SOUP! Makes me want Thanksgiving to be here right now! The picture of the squash and pear is also simply enchanting. I would definitely frame that.

  13. Mmm. This soup looks scrumptious!

    Well, with any talk of food and memories, Le recherche du temps perdu must be brought up, non? The moment when Proust dips the madeleine into the tea and his memories come back in a flood is a favorite moment in literature for me, as I remember (ha!) my literary form professor bringing a plate of them in so we could have our own Proustian moments.

    As for my own “madeleines” I’d have to say that bruschetta, Russian tea cakes and any kind of risotto will bring me to a happy memory place.

  14. Ooooh oooh oooh! Deb, this looks charmingly delicious. Definitely going on the must-make list!

  15. Love this soup! Your photos are stunning as well. Perfect recipe for fall! Thanks!

  16. I love this post…and the recipe looks wonderful! Foods definitely bring back memories for me. After my mom died, I would notice the smell of cinnamon at completely random times. It never failed to remind me of her….her cinnamon toast, homemade cinnamon rolls and she even wore Cinnabar perfume. ?

    Thanks for the memories…and the recipe!

  17. LOVE this post. You know I am all about the food memories. I wish The Mistah and I had the kitchen balance you and The Professor have. I’d love it if he did more cooking but at the same time I get uptight every time he sets foot in the kitchen. I need to employ the Anderson ladies motto of “it’s fine”.

    So yes, I will be making some of The Professor’s squash soup soon. And my own favorite food memory is of my grandmother’s frizzled beef and macaroni. It represents everything that was right about being young and carefree. I wrote about it here: http://bonappetithon.com/2010/01/18/food-memories-frizzled-beef-and-macaroni/

  18. That looks gorgeous! Such an unusual combination of so many of my favs!!!

  19. Beautiful, Debra. This post is a love poem…

  20. Such a lovely soup…and a lovely post! I too love that scene in Ratatouille. For me, whenever I bite into an apple pie, I’m transported back to my grandmother’s tiny house. She would bring out the most delicious pie after a long Sunday meal, and we would all sit and laugh and eat together. This bisque looks delicious. I may have to make it tomorrow night!

  21. I love your descriptions of your cooking styles. My husband and I are both fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants cooks with very little use for published recipes other than inspiration.

  22. Very nice story of your cooking history together. I look forward to seeing it unfold going forward!

  23. What a great story. And nice to see the success of both sides of the same kitchen. I’ve got a butternut squash in the kitchen just screaming to be made, maybe I’ll give this recipe a try!

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