Making Stone Soup

Jan. 23, 2023, 5:37 p.m.  –  by Joanni Grenier

This project was realized as part of the Celine Bureau 2022 writing residency with cigale journal. Translation: Stephanie Creaghan.

To better understand the forthcoming text, it seemed important to me to write a few notes for the readership. First of all, I didn’t make this up. Faire la soupe au caillou is based on the popular tale of Stone Soup. Do you know it? I asked the same question to participants who agreed to read it out loud. I was able to record everything. In engaging with it myself, I understood that an ambiguous figure always appeared somewhere in the story, only to leave with the stone of the soup...

In the context of this residency, I practiced oral transcription, articulating this totally banal and wonderful situation. The script that I propose to you is a documentation of a performance that is both discreet and truly unheard of on my part.









e n u n c i a t i o n s   a n d   o t h e r   n a r r a t i o n s





t v   m u r m u r




s h e   f u r r o w s   h e r   b r o w s


I think you’re worse than me.

You’re a real sneak, all you’re missing is a fox’s tail.


A fox’s tail? Me? That bad?


You can’t even see yourself, go ahead and pretend, she’s there and she’s looking at you!




t h e   o t h e r   b e g s   t o   b e   l e f t   a l o n e


It’s just because I’m happy to be with grandma.


You laughing at me? Shoot! Well, if…


C’mon I’m not laughing at you! Why’d you think that? You were doubled over before…


Ya, well, after that you started laughing.


You got a fly on your left shoulder.


I had a fly that kiss-my-butt. A little-nothing-fly. And then I saw another one.


You got a face like…


You don’t have to be scared of me


Real smart-ass hey..look! Hateful, hey? Hey, real sly one aren’t you? Yeah, just like a fox.


Leave me alone, lemme make my soup!




f a r   a w a y   e y e s


Mm, I dunno, I never tasted one like that.


In the pot, add a medium stone, add water, wait for it to boil.


That’s it? Me, when I make soups, I always add celery.


We can, it adds flavour.



s h e   t a k e s   o u t   a   m e d i u m   s t o n e   f r o m   t h e   b a g

Mm, I’m not hungry. Yesterday for lunch I had half a small spaghetti.

And some popcorn.





s h e   e a t s   i t   a l l   t o   f o r g e t 

Yeah, he flipped out. Anyway, I bought donuts for the heck of it. Half a dozen. Not a dozen! Never seen such tasty lil’ donuts with tons of honey.

Your purse with the tea biscuits! It’s going good here?


Yeah, come sit down with us?


Then, I only ate two. A buck seventy-seven.


For how many?


Half a dozen, pretty cheap!


There was a dozen, Was three bucks. Tried six to see. They’re friggin’ good! D’you buy other stuff. I bought that, and they fell in the car.




a   n e e d   f o r   f o o d


What’s that?


Well, they’re granola bars. Dunno, new type. Plus, they’re crammed with stuff! Normally at Costco there’s no sweet ones. Sweet n’ salty. Eleven bucks. IGA, little wrappers of nothin’. Four, five bucks. N’ these, four bucks is worth at least four wrappers at IGA. I gotta hold myself back, I’d eat the whole thing.


He stayed in the car.


K, but the other thing there..


We’re making stone soup


I bought rice pudding. You just reminded me of that. I had to throw it out. Only tried it one time with maple syrup. Makes you real sick eh? I used to make myself some. But dessert, don’t ask me for it. I don’t make it anymore!


Just a stone soup?




Yeah but we added celery, give it some taste.


Can we add some squash?


We can.




a   y o u t u b e   c h a n n e l   a m b i a n c e



All these little purple flowers.


Never done again.


Gotta plant some.


Nono, I just have my bouquet that I’m watching. It’s a debt. Look, my dad gave it to me. Because o’ him, I’m stuck watering it. When the leaves turn yellow I never know if it’s because I watered it too much or not enough.

We’re making stone soup






a n   a t t i t u d e   

a  c i g a r e t t e 

t h e   b a r b e c u e

t h e   m a r t i n   s t o v e

t h e   g a s   i s   l i t    



  • The digester must be buried with waterproof polyane.”
  • “Otherwise, concerning the functioning of the digester, it’s gotta be said that it’s a stomach. If you change its diet completely, twice a week, it's not gonna to like it. Same thing if you overload it with fats or processed products. It must be fed periodically (the smaller it is, the more you have to do it often), every day or almost with a reasonably homogeneous quantity of detritus, droppings and other fruits, vegetables, cereals or straws unsuitable for consumption.”


  • “The subtlety being that unlike an animal (a fortiori a human stomach) the digester will not complain if you do not feed it correctly. It will therefore be necessary to regularly monitor the quality of the digestate (which must not smell of anything), the absence of foam on the surface of the digester, the pH and the quantity of methane (syringe and whitewash method) from time to time.”


  • “Finally, if all goes well, you will produce a complementary fertilizer to the compost, the digestate being more directly assimilated by the plants. It also makes it possible to rebalance the soil because it is saturated with bacteria which will slowly continue their work of producing trace elements once they have left the digester.”


  • “Recovering wastewater to turn it into a source of energy also seems like a great idea on paper. If you are a market gardener, water filled with CO2 is a godsend for plants, you’ll have to try to water the ground drop by drop. In sprinkling, the CO2 is blocked before having reached the leaves. A guy in India explained to me that when the sun comes out, the ground heats up and the CO2 still underground or on the ground rises in the leaves, thus over-activating photosynthesis.”
  • “It might come as a surprise to you, but excrements are effectively a very promising source of energy.”




p o t   o f   w a t e r   f o r   b o i l i n g

At lunch, I’m not hungry. I always make myself a soup, I don’t have any appetite.


But a little celery and some squash and a stone…






It’s possible.


When I bought my pork fillet yesterday, we were really rolling, hey! To buy meat at Wal-Mart. First time I ever go there. We just got out, and the alarm starts wailing.



Wailing real loud!


Lady says one moment please. I said: -Hey! You wanna see my receipt? - Nono, she says. I know it’s because.. She takes out my pork fillet. She says: - It’s because people steal our pork a lot. I don’t even know how she explained that to France. Then I said: -Look, it costs four bucks! She said: - Look I’m gonna pass it.


It was marked right on the dang receipt.


But it’s wailing! Because people are stealing their meat. How can they do it?




Well anyway, it’s me she stopped. Why doesn’t she stop the people who steal? Two times it happens to me. One time at IGA.. uh Jean Coutu. It was super packed. I bought this fifty buck product, some fancy cream. We leave. This time we leave by IGA.. Uh by where we’re s’posed to pay. We’re about to leave, again, alarm starts wailing. Full of people. There was a line of people! She says: -Madam!


Ah! It’s because they forgot to take it off.


How do you call that ? Scanned ? 


I said : - Next time, I hope she doesn’t forget me. Made me out to look like a thief.


Everybody’s looking at you at that point, eh?


Oh yeah.


Well yeah! She says : - That’s right madam, you’re gonna see. Go right ahead.. I said : - I hope so.


It happened one time?


Happened twice. One time there, the other at IGA. Wasn’t meat but..


I don’t know how they do that.





That it?


Something like that. Some kinda thing like that. They forgot to do it.


Eh! At Wal-Mart that alarm wails like you wouldn’t believe. I’m always watching channel 20. They say there’s gonna be no slow down on the prices there.


For food?


They said?


Well the thing, I bought it, France goes: - It’s not big…, a pork fillet. It was that long hey? I grab one. Three bucks, three bucks nineteen cents. France says: - Pretty cheap! There’s enough for.. I cut it all in slices. Me, I don’t go that way. I throw ‘em in a garlic sauce. You know, there’s at least a dozen slices! I got at least three times more.



It’s because I don’t buy ‘em on IGA, I pay ten twelve bucks. Maybe a little bit bigger..




No joke! 


Oh yeah, eh?


They’re thieves, cursed! Makes no sense! I bought some last time, listen to this…I was with a guy, he was looking for beef cubes too. You know how sometimes they got big big packages of ‘em. Me, I don’t need that, I’m on my own y’know. Just for one personne, a couple a.. Then he says : - You have fondue cubes.


I look, open back up my trash, fondue cubes. Eleven bucks and forty-nine cents for just about eleven ounces. To me, that’s a problem. It’s him that gave it to me. For me, France, that’s a problem. It should be, they were with uhh.. Because him, takes it, goes: - Ah! He says: - Would you look at that.. Y’know, then he goes: - Want one? Me, I Say: - Yeah, gimme one! They were way up at the top.


Where was I, I was right next to you. Where was I?


I put it on for an hour and a half, I dunno if it’s cooked. My vegetables in it, just imagine.. Those are gonna be some mashed vegetables.


Bah, maybe you could make a nice velouté


Anyway, I left it in the oven to cool down.


You know what I’d do if I was in your place..




A meal soup is real good.


But there’s vegetables.


But that’s okay.


But, d’you think about taking all that out?

Well you just gotta take out the beef.

Gonna eat it real well done. Maybe it’s recooking now. I left it for an hour. I put it on at 10:00 AM and I took it off at half past noon.


That’s gonna take at least three four hours and real slow. 

Bin ya, I looked. N’ I said: - France was right. I looked n’said: - France was right.



That’s what Mr. Intelligent gave me. He says: - Look at this, nice little fondue cubes.


Fondue cubes cook like lightning. But not this…


Yeah, yeah, but wasn’t it pretty expensive?


Yeah but beef is pricey. Me I almost never buy it.


Nah, I buy some and it’s seven eight bucks. Beautiful little beef cubes. But they were out. Gettin’ smart. Didn’t wanna sell something good like that unh.

Woah, the stomach’s talkin’.


How’s that?




What’d you eat for lunch?


I tried this soup out for fun.


Now you’re not gonna eat for at least an hour. 

I think I’m gonna upchuck..


Well me, I just had a little soup before



What’re you up to there?


We’re making stone soup





o n e   o f   ‘ e m   w a n t s   a   c a r r o t



Him, at three AM he’s downstairs, at three in the middle of the night... I dunno what he does. Takes out the papers that’s for sure, but me I don’t see them go out. But it takes him a damn near half an hour. I dunno what he does! After that comes another. Two thirty. On Friday, it’s a big station wagon, cream colour.


At two thirty in the mornin’?


Yeah yeah. At night!


Him he also brought who knows what at night.



t h e   o t h e r   s u g g e s t s   a   c a b b a g e

Not asleep? You get up to look out the windows.


After that… the radio, can’t catch Montmagny gosh dang it. S’that normal? When I walk by the radio to go to the toilet, shhhhhh it scrinches. It makes a sound, you understand? If I come over and sit down, if I lie down the sound stops, the scrinching.


Bin ya, that’s normal because you conduct electricity.


Me there, I’m electric. I don’t know what’s up with me!

But everybody’s like that!


Catherine gave me a kiss. It frizzled my skin. Like, it burned. I got a shock. Sometimes I turn on the light and I get a shock.


Oh come on!


No I’m serious.


More electric than the rest of us.

Yeah, boy did it ever smart. Anyway it looks like I’m stuck with it. Doesn’t go away. Tried out creams, all sorts of things. I’d like for it to go away but it just won’t.




t h e n   e a c h   r u n s   t o   t h e   g a r d e n

It isn’t so bad in the grand scheme of things.


Well no, but it’s all these little chafes. It makes the skin all bumpy. But no one believes me but it’s true. Ask Catherine it’s true.


Me, I believe you.






Pfft, ya. When I turn on the light that night, I don’t use my whole hand there. Just my finger, not to put myself on the side of the thing. I get shocks everywhere. I’m just current, y’know.


You listen to the radio too much.



She said that she was current!


I can’t find my radio station. I’m going slow but I can’t find it.



b r i n g s   b a c k   o n i o n s


You’re too electric!



p a r s n i p s

Nono! Quit it! I reopened my dozen eggs and I think they’re good until September 7th. It’s marked S-E-C. Maybe they made a mistake? There’s one egg, it’s got a little hole in it.


You didn’t show me that when you came over.



a n d   p a r s l e y

It’s not a big deal, they were on special. I’ll check tomorrow morning, gonna cook myself some up.



w a t e r   b o i l i n g   o n   t h e   m a r t i n   s t o v e 

Supper’s ready, I’ll serve it out!







d i n n e r   c o n t i n u e s   g u e s t s   g r a n d m a   m o m   d a d   t a k e   t w o   e x t r a   s o u p   p o r t i o n s

Eh, you look like you’re feeling good. Right in the groove, hey?


Eh, you know, it’s not bad. M’gonna put my legs up for a little bit.


You should put something on your head.. 


Your hair’s gonna get all charred.


I gotta get back.


We saw one heck of a barbecue yesterday hey?



s h e   s n o r t s   t o   l a u g h



Two times longer’n yours. Two times the whole kit; three; they were selling it for how much? Nearly three grand?


Eight hundred.


No not that. On the other side. That one, that was expensive like you wouldn’t believe.


Nono, it was eight hundred.


Hey, it was a whole kit this big with all kind of shelves. Nono, I remember it being two grand something, I dreamed of it for me..




a l l   e a t   a   t h i r d   b o w l   o f   s o u p

It’s not cooked all the way through!







s h e   t a k e s   f r o m   h e r   b a g   a   p o i n t y   k n i f e 



If you don’t mind, I’m going to put it back in its bag and bring it to another dinner




a n d   s t e a l s   t h e   s t o n e

What’re you gonna do with that? You’re leavin’?


Are you gonna come back down and sit with us?

Aaaaand she’s gone. For me, it’s true that stone soup is a lot better with a little celery.





Well, I bet it was a special stone.



s h e   d i p s   h e r   f i n g e r   i n t o   h e r   b o w l   o f   s o u p

Your corn on the cob, where’d you get it France?



s h e   l i c k s   h e r   f i n g e r

It’s not bad.