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Photograph 22: Watercress

I remember watching a movie scene where a fancy lunch was taking place outside.  The dish that was served was Cream of Watercress, which looked like a soup.  This puzzled me; what is watercress?    Turns out it’s just lettuce!  Okay, a fancy lettuce rich in vitamins and a history dating back centuries: “…the French are noted for delicious thick soup made of potatoes and watercress, Potage Cressionniere. This is usually served hot, though it is delicious served cold. The English, of course, are responsible for popularizing the watercress sandwiches. These are now practically standard service, appearing at daily family teas and high teas alike. The Italians, too, did their bit by adding shortcut sprigs of Watercress to their minestrone and other satisfying and hearty vegetable soups. The Chinese have long used watercress sprays in their egg drop, wonton and of course watercress soup” (http://www.watercress.com/history.aspx).  The soup looked like a liquid puree` of cucumber.  The above states that it involves potatoes, so now I’m curious about the recipe.

I was a little confused at first, since the first few recipes I found didn’t even include potatoes.  As with any dish, I’m sure many variations exist.  I wanted a recipe close to the original description, and through further searching I found one from Wolfgang Puck on the Food Network (view the recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/wolfgang-puck/cold-cream-of-watercress-soup-recipe/index.html).  It’s basically potatoes and lettuce boiled until soft, then they are blended to make a soup.  I like lettuce and I like potatoes, but together in a mushy, drippy mess?  It’s also served cold, and I’m thinking that I’m not making this any time soon.  As a personal preference, I love green leaf lettuce.  I wonder if they have a soup for that too.

I read the above again and something escaped my view: watercress sandwiches.  I have heard about French and British “tea time” and often giggled while picturing old ladies sipping tea with their pinkies extended.  The more I think about it, I start constructing what I would use to make these “tea sandwiches”.  There is a powdered seasoning packet you can buy to mix with sour cream.  It is ranch in flavor and so good when finished, even though I cannot stand sour cream.  It makes for an incredible dip for fresh vegetables.  I would spread this on lightly toasted bread, add some of the hearty lettuces like watercress or green leaf and cucumbers.  They could be cut in quarters and arranged quite handsomely too, although I doubt I will extend my pinky when eating them.  Then again, I don’t like tea either.  Maybe they’re lucky I’m on this side of the world.

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