Enjoy mulligatawny — a well-traveled soup

Mulligatawny soup, the featured item for Monday Munch at the Charlotte Senior Center, has a long, intriguing history. This popular soup has traveled from India, settling in at points around the globe, before making its appearance in Charlotte.

The article “Some Like It Hot: Class, Gender and Empire in the Making of Mulligatawny Soup,” published in Economic and Political Weekly and available on the website, offers insights into the identity and power structures embedded in this food — and in everything else we eat.

Noted missionary and explorer David Livingston wrote of eating mulligatawny during his African explorations; Charles Dickens’s weekly magazine, “All the Year Round,” published a recipe. Another Victorian novelist, William Makepeace Thackery, who was born in Calcutta where his father worked for the East India Company, had his poem about mulligatawny published in “Punch.” Charles Francatelli, chief cook for Queen Victoria, had his own version, which included ham, a turnip, a carrot and six apples.

Heinz put the popular soup in tins where you can still find it today.

Look at the menu board near the counter in the “Soup Nazi’s” shop in this episode of Seinfield, and you will see 11 soup choices. Mulligatawny sits at the top of the list.

There are no Soup Nazis at the Charlotte Senior Center and rest assured that you won’t be kicked out if you ask for bread with your soup. Bread is always served with Monday Munch.

Monday Munch, April 10
11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. or until the food is gone
Mulligatawny soup with chicken, green salad, almond cake with whipped cream and fruit. Remember: Reservations for Grab-and-Go meals are required by the previous Monday or 802-425-6345.

Thursday, April 13
Men’s Breakfast: 7-9:30 a.m.
Enjoy a conversational breakfast and then hear a talk on the joys and challenges of raising and selling shrimp in Vermont by John Brawley of Sweet Sound Aquaculture. To register contact Tim McCullough.

Grab-and-Go meal
Pick up time 10-11 a.m.
Baked ham with raisin sauce, sweet potatoes, Capri blend vegetables and Congo bar. The meal is provided by Age Well. Suggested donation of $5, but not required. Pay what you can, when you can.

Monday Munch, April 17
At press time, volunteer cooks are still planning. For menu update, go to the website.

Thursday, April 20
Grab-and-Go menu. Pick up time 10-11 a.m.
Beef with BBQ sauce, baked beans, broccoli florets and pumpkin cookie.

A few more words about Monday Munch. Mulligatawny soup with a glass of sherry is the first course served in “Dinner for One,” an 18-minute British slapstick farce. Not popular in Britain, try to figure out why watching this film is a German New Year’s rite, the most frequently repeated TV program there. People in Denmark, Sweden and Finland have adopted this New Year’s tradition.

There’s a short introduction in German, followed by the farce in English. I confess I could not make myself sit through all 18 minutes, but Rotten Tomatoes reports that lots of people give this high approval.

Think about what message people were trying to send when they reincarnated the soup as potage de madres and consommé l’idienne.

Meanwhile, at McSweeney’s, Sam Woods gives us an Olive Garden menu written by H.P. Lovecraft. Reading this should make you aware of how fortunate you are for the open invitation to come for Monday Munch at the Charlotte Senior Center.

Yes, there is a song called “Mulligatawny.” Here’s Fred Douglas singing it in 1927.

Searching for a song to welcome spring? Here’s one.