I cannot believe this is even a debate: Nutritional hegemony and its evil harbingers

February 28, 2020

Soup is not food. When I say “soup is not food,” I am in no way saying that soup is not delicious or nutritious. On the contrary, I am an ardent supporter of dipping grilled cheese in a nice tomato soup or getting through a rough cold with a bowl of chicken-noodle soup. What I mean is that soup is a drink and not a food. 

Now, I know you’re sitting there thinking, “Soup is a liquid, sure, but why does that matter?” We’ll get there in time, but now that, based on your question, I clearly have you intrigued, let me offer some hypotheticals for you to think about: Is a milkshake a food or a drink? What separates a condiment from a dressing from a spread? Where is the line between candy, chocolate and dessert? Can you believe it’s not butter?

These questions plague me on a daily basis. Sometimes I lie awake in bed, knowing that I have a class in six hours, tormented by these distinctions. Eventually, I take some Nyquil or some melatonin if it seems to be a particularly traumatizing thought experiment, only to have a nightmare about the same subject. 

Anyway, back to the topic at hand: Liquids are not foods. Sure, you can argue that the noodles that float in a broth are food, but the soup itself is not food. And this argument, off base as it may be, elucidates the importance of this issue, elevating it beyond mere pedantry. 

Life is all about choices. There are few worse things than biting into something expecting it to be soft only to be greeted by an unwelcome crunch or biting into a presumed hard food only for it to give under the strength of your jaw. We separate the things we ingest so that we know what we are getting into in advance to avoid such problems.

When I take a sip of orange juice (or OJ for all you “cool cats” out there) and am affronted by a smattering of pulp, I feel like it might as well not be a juice anymore. Food is food, and drinks are drinks. When you start to break down the barriers between these (ideally) wholly-divorced things, as is done in the case of soup, you throw the world into chaos. One day it’s a little bit of pulp in my juice, the next day my glass has an unpeeled orange in it. By blurring the lines between food and drink, one moves society closer and closer toward nutritional hegemony. I certainly do not want all of my food intake to consist of gray slop, but I’m not so certain that all you “soup-truthers” hold the same sentiments. 

If anyone reading this disagrees, feel free to dump a scalding bowl of soup into my lap. On second thought, maybe just swap my glass of soda or juice or water at lunch for a glass with an orange in it—that way I’ll know you read this article and won’t have to take a trip to the ER.