My Friend Greg and a Pear & Watercress Soup
His name is Greg. His closest friends call him Gerge. I do. He stepped into my life back in 92' when we met at an Italian Gelato shop and he wouldn't shut the fuck up. I love that about him. He has a voice and he was the first person, man or woman, that talked more than I did. I sat there, glued to my seat and mouth taped shut, partially unnerved at his ability to steer and control the conversation but mainly in awe. Mostly in awe. This guy was me. Only better.
I moved to Kingston from Toronto to attend University. I didn't know a soul in that small beautiful city by the lake with memories engraved on every corner. I had an old friend tell me to look for a man who coached the college tennis team. It was on those hard courts painted red and green with stripes of white that I first met Peter. It was through Peter that I first met Greg.
Those were scary days back then and on my own and I was looking for a place to rent and Peter had told me about both David and Greg. I called Greg up and talked on the phone and we met for gelato where we got to know each other. It was like a date, only it wasn't. We found a place that a friend of a friend was renovating and renting and it was perfect. We moved in together and now have life long stories from those times. Late nights, even later nights, study sessions and spontaneous trips together just to get away.
We shared accommodations for a few years and our friendship grew during those times. He was like the brother I never had. The first Mother's Day as housemates we decided to invite our three moms over and I made the food. Greg always liked my food so it was as much his suggestions as it was mine. I can still see the six of us tightly roped around that small square table we called our dining room table. The first of an album full of times like that.
It was my first place on my own, away from my parents. We still have a million stolen moments from those days, our first days. Like Greg dropping off his laundry at the local wash n' fold. The guy asked for his name and he said Greg. Let's just say after numerous attempts to correct the man's spelling, he walked away a new man. He walked away as Gerge.
When he came to pick it up later in the night a woman was working there. "Hi, I'm here to pick up some laundry," he said. "No problem, what's the name?" "Greg," he responded. "Um. I don't see a Greg here." He jumped in, "Try Gerge." "Yup, got it!" And so it came to be.
He always loved the food but it was the company that mattered most. It did to me. We would laugh at some of the trouble we got into when we were naive and young and then head out on the town to follow those same steps we took years before.
Greg sends out updates every month or so about his progress. He talks about his doctor's thoughts and plans on proceeding and he openly discusses his medication and future. In every email I see words scattered about like hope and life and love. Those words never actually appear there, but I see them. I feel them.
I can feel that joy of life in his words, as if he's speaking to me from across a table. I can sense it. And every time I get a new email I read it by myself and wish I could read the words 'cure' or 'never again' boldy and proudly displayed. They aren't there. Yet.
I know Greg would love this soup, this Pear & Watercress Soup. Next time we see each other and he's between therapies and feeling better, I'm making this for him. And I hope we laugh. I hope it never stops. Ever.
Long ago when I first met Greg and we sat in that gelato shop I knew what I know now. He's an incredible man. He's a devoted man. He's a man with a love for life. And I look at him in awe. From cities and miles away. This guy isn't me. He's better. Way fucking better.
Pear & Watercress Soup
1 small baguette1 baguette, sliced on the bias
2 tbsp olive oil
3 large ripe pears, cored, peeled and sliced
1 tbsp butter
3 large shallots, peeled and sliced
2 cups potatoes, roughly 1 large
4 cups chicken broth
2 bunches watercress, about 3 cups
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
2 Meanwhile, peel and core and slice pears. You should have 3 1/2 to 4 cups. Heat butter in a large saucepan over medium heat until bubbly and browning. Add the shallots and cook 5 minutes or until soft. Add potatoes and pears and then pour in broth.
3 Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Set aside 6 to 8 watercress sprigs for the garnish and add remaining watercress to the soup. Heat over medium heat for 5 minutes or until hot. Purée the soup in batches in a blender until smooth.
5 Return soup to the saucepan and stir in 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Heat until hot. Season to taste.