Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Beatriz Moisset

In Argentina there is a type of pasta that we call ammunition pasta. It is used mostly to make soups. The name describes the shape perfectly. In Italian, it is called pastina, but this name also applies to other small kinds of pasta with different shapes. Did you know that Knorr sells sopa de municiones? I will look at the ethnic foods section next time I go grocery shopping, not that I particularly feel a craving for that kind of soup.

Anyway, my mother always prepared soup as the first dish. She eventually said that it was an inexpensive way to fill our bellies before the main dish arrived. So, one night ammunition soup arrived at our table. My sister, Raquel, or Quela, as we always called her, was all of three years old and sat on her high chair. She announced that she didn’t like ammunition soup and refused to eat it. My father said that she wouldn’t get the main dish or the following dessert unless she finished her soup, a warning with which we all were familiar. I don’t remember ever challenging it for long.

Raquel sat silently, with her little jaw firmly set. At the end of our meal, our plates were empty and her cold bowl of soup remained untouched. My father dictated that there would be no food for Raquel the next day unless she ate her soup. So, the bowl went to the refrigerator.

The next day, the reheated soup came to the table, it sat untouched once again and went back to the refrigerator. This was repeated again and again in the following family meals. Raquel began to look haggard and, according to my mother, the soup was beginning to smell.

In desperation, my mother sat Raquel on her lap, unclenched her jaws as best she could and managed to shove a spoonful into her mouth. Ammunition sailed out of Raquel’s mouth and across the room in all directions. Spoonful after spoonful, this process was repeated with the same results. With a sigh, my mother declared that Raquel had finished the soup and now she could have her lunch. The bowl was nearly empty, yes, but a good part of it had spilled on the struggling mother and daughter, not to mention the shower of little ammunition scattered around them.

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