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Grace Cock Flavoured Soup Mix (Spicy) 

Price and provenance unknown
(arrived via co-worker)

Being good in business," wrote Andy Warhol in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), "is the most fascinating kind of art." Clearly, Warhol was fascinated by business, but in this respect he did not confine himself only to those successful businesses that rose to a "fascinating kind of art."

Witness his pencil-on-lined-paper drawing of a can of Cock Soup, on sale for &1639,500 at London's Belgravia Gallery. The hurried lines that make up the crude little drawing are no doubt precursors to his iconic line of Campbell's Soup cans (now there's an artistic company!), but even with this august pedigree, the makers of Grace Cock Flavoured Soup Mix (Spicy) probably should have spent a little more time coming up with a name for their product.

Despite the prominently displayed rooster on the packaging, it's hard to steer your mind clear of the soup mix's earthier Ecuadorian cousin, sopa de pene, also known as "cock soup."

Made by boiling seasoned bull-penis medallions and topping the broth with soft cheese, sopa de pene is traditionally eaten by Ecuadorian boys as they undergo a rite of passage.

I've never tasted true sopa de pene, but I can tell you that the ingredient list on a package of Grace Cock Flavoured Soup Mix (Spicy) contains nary a mention of penis, testes, taurine or "soft cheese."

Instead, the chefs in Grace's kitchen have larded their sachets of dehydrated cock soup with more exotic ingredients — like disodium inosinate, thiamine mononitrate, BHA and BHT. In fact, I don't see a single reference in the entire ingredients list to poultry or beef. Those must fall under the "Natural and Artificial Flavours" listing toward the bottom.

So how am I to discern whether those "Natural and Artificial Flavours" are meant to ape the blood-engorged intensity of a boiled bull penis, or the sensible red-meat alternative that is a chicken breast — by the rooster on the label?

I think not.

The watery broth carries a faint note of the "Spices" listed among the ingredients, and the overall flavor is reminiscent of countless salty rehydrated stocks, but as far as revealing a soup species — or even a class, for that matter — a bowl of Grace Cock Flavoured Soup Mix (Spicy) is as mute as a Warhol Screen Test.

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September 23, 2020

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