Garlic soup in Prague

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“What is something you miss about

Living in Europe?”


My first reminiscence is


In Prague for the blustery month of January

I discovered garlic soup:

Russet beef broth with tiny chunks of garlic mince swirling around,

Warm, gooey strings of melted white cheese,

Small coral-colored squares of ham.

One guy in the class I was taking

Ate so much garlic soup,

That he exuded a

Garlicky reek through the pores of his skin,

And I swear that,

Like a skunk,

When he got excited or animated,

His body released a puff of the odor.

We all avoided sitting next to him in class,

And someone eventually had to speak to him.

Perhaps one of the instructors who had lived there for awhile.

Riding the coach away from Prague to my next destination,

I had packed up some groceries for the journey and,

Not knowing Czech well,

I had accidentally bought two large bottles of


Rather than

Still water.

(I love that phrase,

“Still water.”

It calls up calm, deep, cobalt pools in

Pine-forest clearings.

And “sparkling” is a lovely word, too.)

I forced myself to drink it for hydration–

The merits of which I doubted.

It tasted to this American like

Diet Coke without the flavor.

Now, finally,

Nearly a decade later,

I understand sparkling water.

It’s the

The post-pop,



The Europeans get it, of course.

“Sparkling or still?” they ask in restaurants.

“Sparkling,” I would say now.

With a lime squeeze.