That “stench” you’re smelling on this train platform? It’s my Nonna’s soup. My beautiful Nonna’s famous, secret soup. Would you look my ancient, toothless Nonna in the fuckin’ face and tell her you think her soup smells hellacious? No! You wouldn’t! So wipe that smug, disgusted look off your face and let me explain.

The first thing you need to understand is that you understand nothing. “If it’s gonna smell like that, why can’t he just make it in private?” That’s you. That’s what you sound like. Well, “bud,” I can’t make it in private. I don’t want to reveal too many insider secrets here, but my Nonna’s secret soup needs to be simmered in a big-bottomed cauldron for 14 days and 14 nights. Do you know how hard it is to find a premium cauldron in New York? And would you be able to carry that big-bottomed cauldron up four flights of narrow stairs with a dog barking at you from behind every single door? I don’t think so. (Yeah—my building requires that every tenant owns a dog. That’s the only way the city allows my landlords to run that dog park out of our basement. Bet you’re feeling real dumb for not thinkin’ about the dogs right off the bat.)

And look, even if I was the strongest guy in my office—and a lot of architects are pretty built. People don’t realize that, but the guys at my office are certified gym rats—it’s just too big. The cauldron, I mean. Too big for my stairwell, too big for my kitchen, too big to even get on the train to bring the soup to my Nonna’s house.

So what, I wonder, could be the perfect substitute for a big-bottomed, cast iron cauldron? Well my friend, you’re lookin’ at it. This absolute tanker of an MTA trash can.

Your average big-bottomed cauldron is gonna run you about eight hundred, nine hundred dollars. And those numbers are from a few decades back. I don’t even want to know how many G’s you could drop on a big-bottomed cast iron these days. But a trash can on the BDFM platform at West 4th street? That’s public access, baby. That belongs to the people. For the meager price of a Metrocard swipe, I’m stewing in a pseudo-cauldron with a bigger bottom than any conventional pot I ever saw.

What’s up? Your train’s arrival time just jumped to 18 minutes from now? Perfect. That should give me almost enough time to get this through your damn skull. Look, I get it. You think the soup stinks, you think it’s dirty to stew in a subway trash can, and you don’t understand the indoor dog park thing. Well you know what? My Nonna didn’t drag her raggedy ass through the hills of Calabria to hear my grand-Nonna utter this time-honored recipe with her last breaths just for you to be “confused” and “pissed the hell off.” This isn’t about you, guy. It’s about soup.

And I’d offer you some right now if I could. But it’s only day five of a labor-intensive fortnight of stewing. So I can’t offer you a slurp just yet.

No need to sigh and groan. You’ll get a taste, alright. All in good time. Look, I’m planning to be back here in about a week with dozens of tupperwares. I’ve gotta get the goods to Nonna somehow, you know? The tupperwares—don’t overthink ‘em. Don’t look too close. Some of ‘em are new, some of ‘em are slick with tomato sauce and turmeric stains of dishes past; that doesn’t matter! I don’t discriminate. That’s something you could stand to learn from.

So tell you what—let’s meet back here. Right at this trash can, in nine days time. And you can taste the soup you turned your nose up at. I think you’re gonna feel like a real jackass, pal. I really do.


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