From The Fairy in the Bed series
Source: The founders of Peckerdale Grene Community Tower made it a tradition
Significance: Residents, friends or visitors were all welcome to partake. Most of the residents took shifts in the kitchen
“I suggest you come down to the public lounge and get some soup or a coffee. Shall I call you a taxi?”
Peckerdale Grene Community Tower was built in the mid-1980s. It was the brainchild of two couples; Peter and Pia Peckerdale and Peter and Gentian Grene. The two Peters were distant cousins and they and their wives developed the tower for their extended family and other congenial people. By 2016, it was a thriving home for families traditional and not.
One of the initiatives from the start was the public lounge and kitchen which took up much of the ground floor. This communal area provided a place to entertain and anyone who didn’t feel like cooking could eat there. The basic menu was soup, speciality bread, cheese, preserves and tea and coffee. Most of the inhabitants took shifts in the kitchen and there was always a giant pot of soup simmering on the stove. Gentian Grene had an extensive vegetable garden, and she was also an inventive cook, so she provided most of the recipes. When Chloe Fraser first dined there with Gentian’s grandson Peck Grene, she was feeling both rattled and suspicious. They’d had a misunderstanding of Everestian proportions and the only thing Peck could think of was to offer her soup. That was the way things were done at the tower.
He opened the private door into the kitchen and filled two bowls with leek and potato soup, which he carried through to the community lounge.
He was tucking in when the young woman edged through the door. She looked about as if puzzled. Peck gave her a formal smile and indicated the steaming soup. “This other bowl is for you if you want it.”
The second time he offered her soup, Chloe was exasperated.
“What is it with you and soup?”
“It’s not me and soup. That’s what’s on offer in the Peckerdale Grene community lounge. There’s always soup, for anyone who needs it. My grandfathers and grandmothers think it’s a nice thing to do.”
Chloe got over her unease and was soon a regular visitor to the tower. She called the community lounge the souper room and the name stuck.
Later, Peck’s cousin Ryl…
…held out a bowl of soup so yellow it was clear to Peck it held a dangerous amount of curry.
He nodded his thanks and raised the bowl to his lips. It was curry and rice, hot and fragrant with ginger, and he felt it warming him from the inside out.
All sorts of soup was consumed in the souper room. The family shared the recipes, but most of them originated with Gentian and when she did the cooking it was something of a treat.
When Pen Swan was invited to supper by Ryl and her friend Skye…
Pen sat between them and ladled out some soup. It was divine, with hints of ginger, coconut, and coriander. She also detected lemongrass. Pen closed her eyes in appreciation as she sipped.
“Seriously, Ryl,” she said when she’d cleared the bowl. “This stuff is magic.”
“It ought to be since it’s Grandma Grene’s recipe.”
Pen’s bridesmaid Flori heard a bit more about it from Hamish, one of the best men…
“If things go to pot, we get out the pots—and cook.”
“Food has a soothing effect, and it’s giving, my bonnie. It’s difficult for a woman to think about mayhem and violence when she has a meek fairy man feeding her soup.”
So, lemongrass, curry, potato and leek, parsnip… all kinds of soup were consumed in the souper room. As Ryl said, when she was still in her teens…
“We can get something in the kitchen here. Gentie makes good soup.”