Soupe Identitaire




The Soup Nazi came to fame via a 1995 episode of Seinfeld. The character, known for his excellent soups but dictatorial obsession with maintaining order, had a strict rule set — violate it and he’d confiscate your soup and remove you from the store. His catch phrase, “no soup for you!,” spoken with a noticeable yet hard to place accent, permeated culture, becoming part of the late 90s parlance. 

The Soup Nazi character was based on a real person named Al Yeganeh, who at the time ran a restaurant in Manhattan called the Soup Kitchen International. Yeganeh did not take kindly to the comparison to the horrible German regime, understandably. Even if he had made it explicitly clear that he was the undisputed master of his restaurant’s domain, he wasn’t discriminating against customers due to their religion, for example. After all, who cares about the religion of the person eating your soup? 

Odile Bonnivard does. 

Bonnivard is the leader of Solidarite des Francais (SDF), a group which, in 2004, ran a Paris soup kitchen supporting indigent people and families. A noble endeavor, for sure, until one realizes that SDF’s stated objectives aren’t to help the poor — or, at least, not just anyone who is poor. The origins were innocent. In 2003, Bonnivard’s group began providing hot soup to Paris’ homeless population. The soup’s ingredients were understandably inexpensive but also traditional, and at the time, pork met both the requirements. But as the New York Times notes, that quickly changed. Bonnivard — who the Times describes as  “a member of a small far-right nationalist movement called the Identity Bloc” — and her followers realized they had an opportunity on their hands to make a political point. The inclusion of pork in their soup recipes made it religiously impossible for observant Muslims or Jews to take advantage of the free meals, and this suited SDF just fine. As Bonnivard explained (per the Times), “the soup is meant to make a political statement: ‘Help our own before others.'”

The soup, called “Soupe Identitaire” or “Identity Soup,” contains pigs’ ears, feet, and tails (as well as smoked bacon), as well as a few vegetables. The idea spread somewhat, with Identity Soup also sprouting up in other areas of France as well as in Belgium, sparking fears of a trend. Police banned the practice and the court system in France, ultimately, upheld the ban.

Bonus fact: Soup kitchens were prominent in the United States during the Great Depression — often finding unlikely benefactors in support of their philanthropic causes. For example, one soup kitchen to benefit the unemployed, seen here, was bankrolled by gangster Al Capone.

From the ArchivesLiquor, Sicker: Things Capone is more famous for.

RelatedA bag of pig ears. Not meant for people, though.