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All You Need to Know About Onion Soup

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Had you asked, I could tell you all you need to know about onion soup. For the good of mankind, I'll tell you anyway. In 1953 I was in Germany on an errand for Uncle Sam, and at the Railway Station Hotel in Tbingen I enjoyed an onion soup that they told me was the specialty of the place.

It was my birthday, and the respected editor of the Swabian Tageblatt was deigning to take me to lunch. In Germany, lunch puts on 14 pounds a week and is never a moment for business. We Americans say, "I'd like to buy Union Pacific; can we lunch and discuss this?" In Germany they lunch to eat, and then go somewhere to talk shop. I was to enjoy the signal honor of a front-row seat for the opening of a Tbingen Onion Soup.

Tbingen is quite the place. It has all manner of industry, but is best known as the seat of a university founded in 1477. I had been shown about the institution, even to the dungeon where the naughty students were deposited to reflect on their error and reflect and reflect. If it could be moved, I'd buy it and give it to Harvard Law School.

Then we had lunch. The hotel sits by the train tracks, and several trains whooshed past as we ate. The onion soup deserved close study and got it. While we ate and ate the proprietor brought the guest book for me to sign. It was a big bound book, and as I fully expected, it began many centuries ago and had space to oblige many more. I flipped the pages and time rolled back. On an early page was the signature of somebody named George Gordon Lord Byron, who must have stopped on his way somewhere for onion soup. I signed the book on its first blank page and returned to my onions.

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