Warning: this post has absolutely nothing to do with Lemony White Bean, Potato & Artichoke Soup. If you came here for soup and soup only, scroll down and you’ll find the recipe below.
The other day Kel and I watched a documentary on the April 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. The film came at the subject from an unexpected (at least for us) angle and it was fascinating, frightening and deeply disturbing. Our lengthy discussion following the documentary eventually led us to the topic of the mother of all conspiracy theories: the assassination of JFK.
And, since one can’t talk about that day without at least mentioning the famous Zapruder film taken during President Kennedy’s ill-fated trip to Dallas on November 22, 1963, we had to fire up YouTube to watch it a few times. Kel had never seen it before.
Alexander Zapruder, a JFK admirer and amateur photographer, took his Bell & Howell Zoomatic (the name evokes the let’s-land-a-man-on-the-moon optimism of the early- to mid-60s, doesn’t it?) to record what was expected to be an uneventful drive through the city followed by lunch with a few Texas politicians. Later, the footage Mr. Zapruder shot would become integral to the Warren Commission investigation and one of the most scrutinized film recordings ever. (Imagine if Lincoln’s assassination at the Ford Theater had been captured on film! Sic semper tyrannis!)
If you haven’t seen this stunning 26.6-second historically and forensically important film and you have a strong stomach (especially if you view it in slow motion or frame-by-frame, options you’ll find on YouTube), you owe it to yourself to take a look. (It is, btw, without sound.) Rather than definitively revealing the details behind Kennedy’s death (i.e., was there more than one shooter? Did the fatal shot come from behind? From the side?) it seems to have ensured that the debate about what really happened will continue for eternity.
The footage is raw and startling and painful. There is no question that the second shot that hits Kennedy is fatal. It killed him literally, of course, but it also pierced the shiny Camelot chainmail. The line between life and death is awfully narrow; the President was a mere mortal just like us.
What makes this film all the more wrenching is that it has that sun-washed, faded and blurred, romantic haze of family home movies from the golden post-WWII years. You know – picnics, vacations, first steps of infants, Thanksgiving dinners, presents being opened on Christmas mornings, touch football games played among fall leaves, and proud owners grinning as they show off their shiny new Pontiacs. The colors of the Zapruder clip are all hopefulness and Americana, but the unfolding action is pure horror. Those 26 achingly brief seconds of film mark the transition from the sweet innocence of standing (wearing one’s Sunday Best pillbox hat and white gloves) respectfully along the road for a chance to wave at the President to protests, war, rioting, mistrust of one’s government and the toxic malignancy of conspiracy theories.*
I wasn’t even a twinkle in my daddy’s eye when Kennedy was assassinated. As a young person, I never quite got why a generation seemed so awed by the man and why his death affected their outlook and their lives. Now that I’ve passed the halfway point of my life, I can better appreciate the magnitude of what happened that day. It must have felt as if the comfortable, sane and stable world under their feet suddenly buckled and heaved. I can’t help but dwell on our own troubled times, the deep divide between the “right” and the “left,” the vitriol hurled back and forth, the 24-hour “news” cycle one can’t seem to escape. I hope that we don’t witness a similar shattering, unsettling and violent event – recorded by dozens of “Zapruders” on their iPhones and Samsungs – that would undoubtedly divide us even more.
Coincidentally, Mr. Zapruder’s granddaughter just published a book called Twenty-Six Seconds: A Personal History of the Zapruder Film. Might be interesting to read about the family and how this tiny speck of a film shaped their lives.
*To lighten the mood a little, check out the Magic Loogie bit from Seinfeld.
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cups yellow potato cut into bite-sized cubes
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 15-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp. dried dill weed
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- juice of 1 lemon
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 15-ounce cans reduced/no-salt white beans + juice from 1 can*
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup orzo
- Saute onion over medium heat until soft. Add the potato cubes and garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the artichoke hearts, dill weed, pepper, garlic, lemon, lemon zest, beans and bean water. Stir to combine, then let cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Pour in the vegetable broth, bring the soup to a boil, then turn down the heat so that the soup simmers gently. Cook until potatoes are soft, 20-25 minutes. Add the orzo and cook until tender.
- *drain and rinse 1 can of beans; do not drain the second can - you want the "aqua faba" from this can to thicken the soup.