Duck soup

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Sep 1 13:43:46 UTC 2002

There is a humorous "duck soup" story from Turkish tradition, which can be
found at several Web sites today (e.g., by searching under "Nasreddin
Hodja", the name of the principal character), but which is quite old.

Here it is as quoted from Harper's (at MoA Cornell) from 1852 ["Khojah" =
"Hodja" = "Khoja", meaning an Islamic teacher I guess, perhaps used also as
a nonspecific title like "Sensei"?]:

<<"The Khojah one day saw a flock of ducks swimming in a lake; he ran
toward them, and they immediately flew away. Taking some bread he sat down,
and dipping it into the water, began to eat.

"'What are you doing there, Khojah?' said someone from the opposite side.

"'I am trying the flavor of duck-soup,' was the reply.">>

I don't know whether there's any connection between this "duck soup" and
the one in question; perhaps there could be, especially if the sense of
"duck soup" was originally not exactly "easy" but rather "cheap"/"readily
available" ("duck soup" = plain water). How did the expression appear in
the Dorgan cartoon?

-- Doug Wilson

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