Last night I was one spoonful away from eating monkey brain soup. Apparently me eating it was a test of courageousness and honor. If I were to pass the test, I’d be well on my way to becoming a hero or sorts, capable of defeating even my worst enemies (who, by the way, I’ve never even met). So late last night there I sat next to my brother, Daniel, both of us with big 1/2 gallon sized bowls of monkey brain soup staring us in the face, wondering what we’d gotten ourselves in to.
Let’s rewind about 4 hours. Daniel and I were hauled more-or-less against our will by a dozen people to a bizarre underground house/kitchen/restaurant place. I say ‘more-or-less’ because a part of me was rather curious as to where they were taking us in such a hurry. When we arrived, we entered what looked like a mud hut, but we immediately took a long flight of stairs downward to a large dining area. The furniture was a healthy balance between my old university’s chemistry lab, an urban Swedish home, and a Victorian ranch house. Wow. Someone call the decorator.
We sat on posh wooden chairs that had maybe 3 inches padding; they weren’t especially comfortable, and the backs arched a little too far inward to make me want to sit back. Forced etiquette I guess. The metal ‘laboratory’ table was a little too tall for me, but perfect for Daniel. Touching it chilled my fingers, and resting my arms on it was out of the question. Our chef and waitress (who eerily reminded me of the evil witch in Snow White) first brought us out a dainty salad topped with croutons and finely sliced cucumbers. The salad looked so normal, it was out of place.
“At least they didn’t use iceberg lettuce,” I thought as I poked at it with my fork, hesitant to eat. The spinach and romaine lettuce leaves crunched under my fork’s weight. The dressing was a watered-down 1000 Island, but surprisingly sweet. “Oh well, here it goes,” I said and stuffed a large forkful of lettuce into my mouth. It wasn’t long before I began licking the remaining dressing from my fork, wanting more.
Next came the bread, a soft yet firm baguette that ripped apart nicely when I bit through it. It was hard not to eat the entire loaf, but both Daniel and I wanted to save it for the main course, which was a ‘specialty soup’ made by the waitress herself. We didn’t wait long before the waitress brought out two HUGE white porcelain bowls filled with red, chunky soup. Daniel and I looked at each other, both wondering what was so special about what appeared to be tomato soup with cauliflower bits.
“This,” screeched the waitress, “is Monkey Brain soup.” A short pause, and then in true witch-like fashion, she hunched over my left shoulder and continued, “This is your first test.” Her eyes grew large and her lips pursed upwards in a wrinkly smile. She walked over to Daniel and pulled out five Polaroid pictures from her greasy apron. I leaned over to see them, my thoughts not too far from the big bowl of monkey brain soup.
“These are all people who have failed the first test,” she said, and with her long pointy fingernails, she lovingly stroked circles around the people’s faces. It was hard for Daniel and I not to laugh when we saw the pictures; all the people in them were tossing their cookies. Apparently the thought of eating monkey brain soup was just too much for their weak stomachs. With a prodding nod, she continued “This soup will give you great strength and increase your mind’s abilities, giving you power over your enemies.”
Forget the enemies, I was more determined to pass the first test without puking. I pulled the large white bowl close to me, examining the soup’s ingredients: olive oil, tomato paste, cream, water, cauliflower, rosemary, parsley, and monkey brains. I was pretty sure it was cauliflower, anyway. It seemed a little too white to be monkey brains, but the only way to know for sure was to give it a taste.
I dipped my spoon into the soup and swished it around, wanting to catch a piece of cauliflower. The oils swirled around in my spoon when I lifted it out. Daniel and I caught glances. We were both inches from tasting our first bite of monkey brain soup, sharing a moment of split second hesitation. Thinking of the stories I could tell, I looked back at my spoon, lifting it closer to my mouth. My lips quivered, and in that exact moment an alarm went off waking me up from a rather disturbed slumber. In the end, it was nothing more than a silly dream.
Recipe for Monkey Brain Soup
(We can talk about last night’s snacking habits later.)
1. Eat all of the above between the hours of 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. in no particular order.
2. Brush your teeth with cinnamon toothpaste.
3. Lay in bed for 1/2 hour before closing your eyes.
4. Just before you’re about to fall asleep, get out of bed and check to be sure the kids are sleeping and tucked in. If you don’t have kids, double-check that you closed the refrigerator door and turned off the oven.
5. Go to sleep and dream away.