Story: An emperor was once stranded in the desert with no food or water. He crawled for miles until one man came along and took him into his home and made him some soup, and to the emperor this was the best soup that had ever been made. From the man’s house he was able to send for help, and soon enough he was back in his palace. Months passed until one day he found himself longing for the soup that man had made him; he missed the way it tasted, the way it made him feel. so he sent for the man who made the soup and brought him to the palace, formally requesting the soup once more. The man made the exact same soup, but to the emperor’s surprise he now hated the way it tasted. Disappointed, he sent the man back home.
Thoughts: When asked about why the story stuck in his mind so much, the informant said that he “want[s] to taste that soup,” and that it “was a really fun lesson about relativity”. His mother used to tell him the story before bed, and it holds a special place in their heart.
Context: The informant told this to me over text as they were unable to FaceTime for a recording.
Analysis: My thoughts about this legend are complicated. I do not believe it is a real story, but it realistically could be. The metaphor of the story is very intriguing, in the sense that a memory will never be the same as reality. Chasing a memory is to chase a kind of perfection that is not real in our world, since our brains paint the past through rose colored glasses. Trying to attain that same feeling – like the life-saving relief the emperor experiences in the story- is impossible. Because it wasn’t the soup that gave him that feeling, it was the situation.