cold cucumber soup: a house divided

Next Wednesday marks my twelfth year married to my husband, and, our cheesy Hallmark-card infatuation with each other still burns strong. Sure, he sort of snores at night (not that loud, outright snore, but the low, gurgling snuffle that spontaneously darts into high peaks waking me in a panic), but I forgive him this (or just kick him out of the room) because we all have our faults, and I’ll gladly live with his for the benefits his company brings. Still, within all our love and devotion there lies a gap. Huge, silent, and very deep, it sits like a sinking hole, quietly threatening all harmony in our relationship. The culprit to our animosity is the cucumber and it has created a great divide. One would normally not place such power on the making or breaking of a relationship on produce (I don’t even think Dr. Phil has covered that one yet), but, in my house, it is a very serious point of contention because my husband is allergic to them and I’d include cucumber in every one of my meals if I could get away with it. Unfortunately for me, allergy seems to trump infatuation.In our home, cucumber simply cannot be discussed, mentioned, referred to, let alone bought, peeled, or, God-forbid, sliced, in His presence. When I first met my husband and learned this peculiar trait, I attributed it to being some twisted antic for attention (too much salad and too little loving as a child, perhaps.) But, I was soon proven wrong when witnessing what actually happens in the unfortunate event of cucumber ingestion. Let’s just say he is REALLY allergic and leave it at that.How do two foodies lead a loving and harmonious life while holding such a potentially lethal culinary rift, you ask? The key to our success lies in my husband’s job, which has him traveling most weeks and home on the weekends. Now, this travel arrangement does present some difficulties on our family life: the kids are at that adorable age when they actually LIKE us and therefore they miss daddy terribly when he is gone. The garage door calculably breaks the minute my ‘till-death-do-us-part’ handyman is in Sao Paolo, and, of course, a wacky South Florida cold front will inevitably creep in as soon as he is gone, leaving me alone to tackle that iceberg of a king-sized bed without my human heater.We manage as best we can (pictures of papi to kiss goodnight, Home Depot repair guys for the garage door, and fuzzy pink socks fight the cold bed). I might dare say there are some positive things from travel week. Aside from the beautiful shoes from Argentina and the racy text messages interchanged, travel week also becomes Cucumberfest in my home: a time where the shunned, feared, and detested vegetable returns from exile to be celebrated in all its glory. My kids are still trying to figure it all out. They are quite confused by the whole thing. They know mom and dad love each other, but what’s the deal with the cucumber? Is it good? Is it bad? Whose side do they take? My daughter, whose reflex it is to avoid any fruit or vegetable, has instantly sided with her dad, claiming she is allergic too. My son, on the other hand, seems to carry the same infatuation with the vegetable that I have, insisting I pack him whole cucumbers in his lunch. For me, eerily enough, there remains a twinge of guilt with every bite, as if I were doing something terribly wrong. Gratefully, that only lasts a second, short enough for my taste buds to demand another bite of this refreshingly wonderful vegetable temporarily ostracized in my household. It’s a tasty reason to look forward to Mondays.

Cold Cucumber Soup

(The New York Times Cookbook)
Always a favorite of my mom's, sipping this on a hot day is like sipping a sliver of Heaven.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped onions or 1 leek sliced and cubed
2 cups diced, peeled cucumber
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup finely diced raw potato
2 parsley sprigs
salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 cup heavy whipping cream
chopped chives as garnish

Melt the butter in a saucepan and cook the onions until they are translucent, 3 – 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except for the cream and the garnish, and bring to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Let cool slightly and puree in a food processor or blender. Correct the seasonings and chill.
Before serving, stir in the cream, garnish with some chopped chives.

Serves 6 - 8

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