When Sarah Borealis first ate the traditional stone soup from Oaxaca, Mexico — a fish stew heated with scorching hot rocks — she was reminded of a childhood fable.
"I thought, 'No way; this is something I've only heard about in stories,'" says Borealis, a local visual historian who became fascinated by the ancient tradition while studying in Mexico. Now, Borealis is helping bring the dish to New Orleans diners at a four-day pop-up at Vaughan's Lounge (4229 Dauphine St., 504-947-5562) Oct. 6,-7 and 9-10.
Usually prepared by men, the soup is meant to honor the elders, women and children of the indigenous Chinantec community.
"The recipe has remained the same, but the method of preparation has really evolved throughout the years," says Borealis, who researched its ancient and modern preparation methods while making her 24-minute documentary The Path of Stone Soup, which will be screened at the event.
Chef Cesar Gachupin de Dios and his son Victor Gachupin Velasco, who own and run the restaurant Caldo de Piedra in their village, Usila, will demonstrate preparation of the soup using stones Vaughan's owner Cindy Wood brought back from Mexico last year.
Traditionally served in a hollowed-out gourd, the soup includes red snapper, shrimp, scallops, chilies, cilantro, garlic, tomato and epazote, an herb commonly used in Mexican cooking. Stones are heated in an open fire for at least two hours and dropped into the bowl, instantly bringing the water to boil and cooking the seafood in minutes.
The events take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 6, 7, 9 and 10 and also feature live music, drink specials including mezcal cocktails and Victoria beer and an exhibit of Chinantec textiles. Tickets are $15. Proceeds support the Gachupins' attendance at the International Institute of Indigenous Resource Management in Denver, where The Path of Stone Soup is an official selection of the 2015 Indigenous Film and Arts Festival.