Stone fruit salad

Soup, especially chicken soup is one of those foods considered good for the soul, mind, and body, and often suggested to speed recovery after an illness. There may be more to the belief than simple folklore. It’s healing properties are what inspired the popular series of Chicken Soup for the Soul books. As Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen saidthey wanted it to soothe and provide comfort, just like their grandmothers’ cooking.

I was reminded of this when Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch dished up her flash fiction prompt this week, challenging writers to In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about comfort food.

How could I go past soup? But what soup? Chicken soup? Pumpkin soup? Tomato soup? No, stone soup.

I’m sure you are familiar with at least one of the versions of the story Stone Soup. Basically, some hungry travellers come to a village. They cannot afford to buy food and, although they ask, the townspeople refuse to share with them. Undaunted, the travellers heat up a pot of hot water with a stone in it. They explain to the curious villagers that their “soup” would taste better with the addition of certain ingredients. Intrigued, the villagers happily provide the ingredients. When the soup is ready, the stone is removed and the travellers share the delicious and nutritious soup with the villagers.

With its messages about sharing, working together, and improving things by combined participation, it is a great story to read to and discuss with young children. It could be used to introduce a class cooking activity, such as making soup or stew, to which each child contributes an ingredient.

Although English can be confusing with its multi-meaning words and phrases that have little apparent connection to the individual words used, I think children would understand the story and realise that the stone was not eaten but removed from the soup once it had served its purpose.

Wouldn’t they?

I wondered how it might be interpreted if children were asked to contribute a piece of fruit to a class fruit salad.

Fruit salad

Billy barely paused to say, “Hi, Mum,” as he tossed her a piece of paper and kept going.

The back door slammed, startling Baby. ‘In one door and out the other,” Mum said, as Dad appeared. “What’s he up to?”

Dad watched from the window as Billy took pebbles from the garden, inspected them carefully, then arranged them in neat piles.

“Strange,” said Dad. “I don’t know. He seems to be looking for something. Said they’re making fruit salad at school tomorrow.”

Mum read the note he’d tossed at her, then smiled.

“He’s to take stone fruit,” she said.

 

I guess if Billy contributes a stone, and the other children contribute fruit, they’ll have a delicious, nutritious, and refreshing snack to comfort them on a warm summer’s day. What do you think?

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

 

 

 

42 thoughts on “Stone fruit salad

  1. Christy B

    Oh your story! Clever wordplay indeed, Norah? You’re right that chicken soup often has a “comfort” association to it. I suppose that’s where the book series “Chicken Soup for the Soul” got its name!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Great questions, Hugh. You are Sarah both have raised questions that I’m sure would be asked and discussed wisely in a classroom. Thank you for contributing.

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  2. Lisa @ The Meaning of Me

    Too cute. I remember the story Stone Fruit – always loved it. My daughter’s preschool used to do a thing at Thanksgiving where the kids brought in fruit to make “friendship fruit salad.” I don’t think anyone ever brought stones, though! 🙂

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    1. Norah Post author

      Friendship fruit salad sounds amazing. It is great to make something to which everyone contributes and in which everyone shares. I wouldn’t like to add stones, but stone fruit are a delicious addition. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Sarah. And I’m delighted you raised the point. That’s the sort of alternative idea I’d expect, and be disappointed if it didn’t happen, someone to raise in a class discussion. I agree with you, but everything I read when I researched the story (to refresh the details in my mind) supported what I said in the post. I went along with the crowd (viewing the Emperor’s New Clothes) but hoped someone would see that the travellers were really con artists. What a great discussion to have with children. Does the end justify the means? Particularly when the means tend towards the mean side? Are you familiar with the story Wombat Stew? I thought to include it in the post too, but posts can get too long, so I didn’t. It’s a similar theme. Funny how we support hose we deem to be the “goodies” even if their actions are a bit suspect. Thank you for your discussion point. Love it!

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      1. Sarah Brentyn

        Haha! Emperor’s New Clothes. 😀 Oh…don’t get me started! I LOVE discussing philosophy with kids. “Does the end justify the means?” is one of my favs.

        Well, were they “mean” or were they hungry and tricking the townsfolk who were mean to them? And what were they tricking them for? A basic need that the townsfolk refused them. I didn’t think of the travelers as con artists (well, sort of) but people who were hungry and saw an opportunity after asking and not receiving. The townsfolk allowed themselves to be tricked. Lured in by curiosity. And the travelers could have tricked them into getting food for the soup and left town but they shared it with the stingy, rude people. Lots of lessons in that one. Okay. I’ll stop. 😀

        No, I’ve never read Wombat Stew but I’m going to look for it now!

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        1. Norah Post author

          Oh, Sarah, what a wonderful discussion we could have about this. There is so much complexity in the issue. There are more shades of grey than black or white. That is life, and that is how we make decisions. I think the travelers were clever and the townsfolk mean. It is great that they allowed their curiosity to lead them, but in this case, it also allowed them to be tricked. Didn’t they realise what was going on!!!!? It is good that they shared in the end. Hopefully the townsfolk learned a valuable lessons about cooperation.
          There is this version of Wombat Stew you can listen to if you wish You could turn the sound off and read it to yourself, if you wished. 🙂

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          1. Sarah Brentyn

            I know, I could go on…but I won’t clog up your blog comments.

            Why would I turn off the sound??? I’d miss that lovely voice and fabulous accent! 😀 That is awesome. Haha! “I’m poisoned!!!” Thanks for sharing this video!

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            1. Norah Post author

              I’m pleased you enjoyed the story. I always loved reading it with my class. We would perform it as a play too. Lots of fun! (I just thought you might like to read it quicker without the sound.)

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  3. Pingback: A Bite of Comfort « Carrot Ranch Communications

  4. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    I hadn’t heard the stone soup story either Norah and found it a wonderful example of what can be achieved when people work together and share. I loved your flash. I found a similar effect of language when we were in Vanuatu. We forget how easily communication can be lost if the words aren’t understood.

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  5. Charli Mills

    Good of you to think of Chicken Soup for the Soul. That’s a great series of books, collecting “comfort” stories. I like the stone soup tale and recall learning that at some point. I recently learned that Zuni soup was once heated by alternating hot stones. As one cooled, the stone was returned to the fire to heat up again and the hot one added. A real stone soup! I like Billy’s take on stone fruit, and his determination to pick the best ones!

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    1. Norah Post author

      Well, we only have you and your challenge to thank for sending me along the chicken soup track, so I appreciate your comforting words of SMAG. I did think of the stones that are heated for cooking purposes. I think it was a way of cooking for some of Australia’s Indigenous Peoples.
      I’m pleased Billy’s story worked, though I had thought “stone fruit” would have been more common a term. Now I know. We can’t take anything much for granted. I don’t know how people understand English as a second or other language. We say such weird things.

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  6. Kate

    Oh my goodness … I have long forgotten the Stone Soup story. I’m so happy you included it in your post and that it became the inspiration for your priceless story. I could just see Billy looking for colourful pebbles to make a splendiferous fruit salad that only the imagination of a child could see and eat.

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  7. Annecdotist

    I didn’t know the story of stone soup, Norah, but it’s lovely, thanks for sharing.
    And I think your flash works well – children do know the difference between reality and fantasy but they can still be extremely literal, especially when anxious to please as the little boy would be in this story. It might work even better in the UK as I don’t think we refer to them as stone fruits here, there’s no commonly used collective noun for peaches, plums, apricots etc – although perhaps my compatriots will suggest otherwise.

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    1. Norah Post author

      Hi Anne, I’m interested in your comment about the story working better over there. I thought it required use of the term “stone fruit”. I find it strange that we would refer to peaches etc as stone fruit when they are not native, and most are of Asian origin (Google tells me) and you don’t. I wonder when and where the term was “invented”. Thanks for piquing my interest in this. Language is amazing.

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      1. Annecdotist

        Language is indeed fascinating – as are the differences between us in our assumptions about what “works”. So when you queried my suggestion that it might work better here I had to check it wasn’t one of my famous voice-activated software errors contradicting my thoughts. But no, I wondered if a child who was familiar with the term stone fruit would be too clever to collect stones from the garden, whereas one for whom the name was new – but very easy to work out what it means if you’re pointed in the right direction – might both make a mistake and get the humour. Perhaps, though, it depends on the age of the child.

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        1. Norah Post author

          Hmm. Interesting. Thanks for the added explanation. I thought if a child wasn’t aware of the term “stone fruit”, he’d be more likely (particularly after listening to “Stone Soup”) to gather stones for fruit. It’s interesting to consider how even little things like this can add to or detract from a story’s or character’s credibility.

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          1. Annecdotist

            Ah, but aren’t we saying the same thing? I agree if a child wasn’t aware of the term “stone fruit”, he’d be more likely (particularly after listening to “Stone Soup”) to gather stones for fruit – I think I assumed Australian children WOULD have come across the term.

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            1. Norah Post author

              I’m not sure if six and seven-year-olds would be familiar with the term. Some might be. I’m pleased we are saying the same thing. 🙂

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  8. thecontentedcrafter

    You opened this post in just the right way Norah! One of the things I love about winter is the making of real old fashioned chicken soup, the kind that takes two days to make and really is a cure-all 🙂

    I loved your flash Norah – children are so literal and don’t yet know what the big folk know, so what Billy was doing was totally real to me. I used to make ‘stone soup’ with my younger classes as the story was such a good one to return to whenever the need arose and making the soup was pretty fun as well.

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    1. Norah Post author

      I wish I was in your class to make that stone soup, Pauline! I’m pleased my story was believable. I really struggled with this one. Charli seems to be making it more difficult for me each week.
      It’s almost chicken soup weather over here. How are you faring?

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      1. thecontentedcrafter

        We are definitely Autumnal with just a hint of winter popping up in the morning chill. Blue skies, no wind (yay!) and warm day time temperatures – It’s been the nicest weather of the year really 🙂 Almost chicken soup weather too!

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        1. Norah Post author

          I’m pleased you are enjoying your autumnal weather. I love this time of year with its clear blue skies and perfect temperature. I do like the wind to stay away. August is usually our windy month. Enjoy!

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