By | Saturday, January 29, 2011 Leave a Comment

Every year I go to the Vancouver Music Folk Festival. The festival starts on a Friday evening in the middle of July and ends that Sunday night. At the festival they have an area set up for vendors to sell various kinds of foods to the festival goers. This past year on Friday evening I went to see what there was for dinner. I noticed a new vendor who hadn't been there in prior years: Opa’s Suppenküche. It was a cool evening and I thought to myself, “Mmmmmmmmmmm, soup. A nice, rich, hearty bowl of some kind of German soup with a hunk of rye bread slathered with butter. That would be perfect."

I walked over to peruse the menu:

·         Chili – $8.00
·         Vegetarian – $7.00
·         in bread bowl – add $2.00
Top with your choice of chopped onions or cheese.

There was an old man standing behind the counter. I said to him "Opa’s Suppenküche?

"Yes," he replied, "I'm Opa,” then he leaned in and added, "Opa is German for grandfather."

"Yes, I know, and ‘Suppenküche’ is German for ‘soup kitchen,’” I replied. He looked pleased that I knew what it meant. "But you don't have any soup," I said.

"We have chili," he said. "It's very good chili."

"But if you don't have soup," I said, "you can't call yourself Opa’s Suppenküche.”

Opa no longer look pleased. "It's $8.00," he said, "or $10.00 if you want it in a bowl made of hollowed out bread. It's very good chili."

"I was really wishing for a nice, rich, hearty bowl of a German soup. Perhaps with a hunk of rye bread. And butter. That would have been perfect. Beans, er, give me… ah... gas. It's not something I really want to eat here at the festival." I said.

Opa did not look happy. "It's very good chili," he said.

"No, thank you." I said as I walked away.

The next day around lunchtime I went back to the food area to get something to eat. I glanced over at Opa’s Suppenküche. A sheet with the word "chili" had been pinned over “Suppenküche,” so now the sign read, “Opa’s Chili." I still didn't want chili, but I looked around for Opa to give him a thumbs-up on changing the name. He wasn't there. Instead there was a young man behind the counter. I didn't see Opa again for the rest of the festival.

In my head I made up a story of a conversation the night before:

“I wanted to make soup," Opa said, "but noooooo, you said that people would want chili. You said it had to be chili."

"You wait and see grandpa," said the younger man. "Canadians love chili."

Of course, I have no idea why Opa was only there Friday night, but I like the story that I made up.

Opa, if you're out there, thumbs-up on changing the name, and next year, if you are returning to the festival, don't listen to your enkelchen. Serve soup. It's what you know.
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