Sunday, October 11, 2020

Witches' Brew

Growing up in the country provided the perfect spooky setting when Halloween was looming. Poplar trees with limbs bare transformed themselves into scrawny fingers ready to snatch any one of us kids as we ran by in a hurry. Leaves scurrying over the fields evolved into mice rushing toward us. We were certain our grandfather's old barn with its main door creaking in the howling wind sounded more like screeching witches cackling under the big orange moon. But Halloween wasn't only looming outside with bats swooping down and ghosts swirling about. Things were happening inside the house as well. Especially in the kitchen.

For as long as I can remember when my mother would go to the cupboard and take out her largest cooking pot and set it on top of the stove as the leaves fell and the wind blew and homes were decorated with pumpkins and cornstalks and my cousins and I were figuring out what we'd be for Halloween, I knew what my mother was going to make. She made it come every October. And she made it more than once. More than twice. It was our favorite soup and it was perfect for that time of the year. Somehow it became known as Witches' Brew. 

Maybe it was that pot she was using. Surely if you were a kid you could have imagined it as a witch's pot. It wasn't black. It was silver but it was deep with pitch black handles and when she had her gooey, yellowish brew bubbling and she stood there stirring the brew with a long, wooden spoon, that cauldron full of a boiling, gooey yellowish g broth resembled a cauldron any witch would use. Even my mother. Even when her hair was done up in pin curls.

Standing in the kitchen, watching her stir her tasty concoction I imagined her dressed in black with a pointed hat and long, sharp fingernails despite her fingernails always manicured to perfection. When she added tiny little eyeballs, and cut-up parts and disgusting things that were little and round, that pot would get boiling hot and stem would cover the kitchen windows. Once it had roared to the point of being cooked, my mother would fill enough bowls and set them around the table along with warm cornbread just out of the oven. As we gathered around the table, we'd pick up our spoons and immerse them in our bowls of witches' brew. 

And that's when the gooey, yellowish brew turned into chicken broth and those tiny little eyeballs became acini de pepes and those cut-up parts transformed into cut-up bits of celery, peppers and onions and those disgusting things that were little and round became delicious little meatballs.

Witches' Brew stirred the imagination at a most spooky, gruesome, scary and absolutely marvelously unforgettable fun time of the year when growing up out in the country. And witches' brew continues to be enjoyed, even by the next generation-tiny little eyeballs included.

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