Anyway, the first indication that something may be amiss was when I received an email and then a call from the organizers of the Park to Park swim that said that they'd changed the course of the race. No longer was it going to be with the direction of the current (from 144 to 166 street), but out from 166 to the center of the river, then downtown against the current and back to the starting point.
Not one of the 227 swimmers who gather that Sunday morning seems fazed by this change - some were clearly biatheletes, people who had done these swims many times before and there to win, and others were like me, just in it for fun. For me, the question was, would I actually dive in. I did (see youtube video of the start)! Not just that, I survived and valiantly battled the currents for 25 minutes, at which point I flipped on my back and tried the back stroke (from pure exhaustion) and was shocked when an NYPD motor boat passed by and one of the guys said - "you're going backwards...you all are!" I grabbed a nearby Kayak and looked around - and saw swimmers being ferried back to shore. I had put off giving up, since I didn't want to be the first one giving up, or have my kids see my give up. Now that I knew that completing the swim was a futile exercise, I was ok with being rescued! The cheery kayak'er (who struggled mightily with the currents himself) and the lovely NYPD blokes got me and a bunch of others back to the rocks and we clambered back.
Apart from my family posse (dad, mom, hubby and kids), some of our friends came to cheer me on. I'm not sure what they thought - that I was demented, possibly, but maybe also kinda brave...? Either way, they proved their mettle by actually hugging and kissing me, Hudson water and all.
So, you ask, what's with the title of this post? Just 'cause I remember thinking as I dived into the river that it looked and felt a little like Pea Soup! The resemblance ends there - I drank a couple of quarts of the stuff as I swam across the current and kept getting hit in the face by the swells as I came up for air. Boy, was I happy I got all those shots (Hep A, Typhoid and Tetanus, in case you're wondering.) Still, I'm sharing a Pea Soup recipe that I've played with in the past, since a recipe or food reference is the price of entry on this blog!!
Pea Soup a la Hudson!
One and a half cups of green peas (split peas soak and hence cook faster)
Four cups chicken (or veggie) broth
Half a small onion, diced
One medium carrot, diced
Quarter teaspoon lime juice
One garlic clove
Half a stalk of celery
Salt and pepper to taste
A pinch of turmeric and garam masala for the extra punch
- Soak the peas in the broth overnight (in the fridge, or the broth will turn)
- Cook the peas and broth till the peas start to show they are cooking, which should take around 20 minutes
- Toss in the diced garlic, onion, carrot and celery and cook with the turmeric and garam masala
- Pick out some of the vegetable pieces when they get tender, to add some character to the soup at the end
- Puree the cooked peas and vegetables to a smooth consistency (you may need to add some broth, in case it gets too thick)
- Mix in the reserved vegetables and serve
- Optional: Dribble some cream to decorate the soup as you serve in bowls. You can also add in cubed ham with the vegetables, which is quite conventional. You might also garnish with a sprig of mint, if you want to mix it up a bit!