それからはスープのことばかり考えて暮らした

ずっと懐かしい味。

じゃがいものはいったスペイン風オムレツを平たく焼いてパンにはさむ。オムレツの表面には、ゆるめにといたケチャップがさっと塗ってあるだけ。じゃがいもにしても卵にしても淡い味だが、噛みしめるほどに、ほのかなケチャップの甘みが利いてきて、たしかに安藤さんが「なかなかの傑作」というだけのことはあった。


作者があとがきで語っているように、この小説のテーマソングです。
よかったら流しながらお読みになってください。

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw2TNeVoJvE[/youtube]

僕は、スープが好きです。
大好き、というわけでもないし、「今日はスープを食べよう」と鼻息荒くお店を探すこともありません。
朝、起き抜けにスープがテーブルに乗っていると、「あ、スープだ」とのんびり嬉しく感じるような、関係です。

これは、スープが主題のような、それでいて脇役のような、不思議な関係で作られた物語です。

舞台となる架空の町「月船町」は、あとがきによると世田谷線をモデルにしているとのこと。
実は読み終わる2日前に世田谷線沿いをのんびり散歩していたので、不思議な偶然を感じることができました。

世田谷線は、商店街が息づく気持ちのよい古さを持っている町でした。
そこで時が止まっているのではなく、そこだけ時が流れるのがゆっくりになっているような、のんびりとした空間。

優しい人しかいない。
そんなことは、小説の中だけの、ただのお話に過ぎないでしょう。
でも、あののんびりとした町並みを思い出すと、「そんなことも、あるかもしれない」と思うことができます。
月船町に住む人たちが、みんな静かな優しさを持っているのと同じように。

「どんなスープだったんです?」
「どんなも何も、ただ、いろんなものを大きな鍋に放り込んだだけで」
「名前は」
「そんなものないよ。ただのスープ。何度も味見して、精一杯おいしくなるようつくったけど」

僕はスープが好きですが、何スープが好きかと言われるとうまく答えられません。
じゃがいも、人参、タマネギ、ベーコンが入っていて、少し透明なスープ。
でも、どれかが欠けていても、何かが足されていても問題ありません。

「あのね、オーリィ君」——あおいさんの眉が少しつり上がったように見えた。
「おいしいものをつくる人は世の中に沢山いるし、それはそれはみんな一所懸命につくっているはずですけど、一所懸命だけじゃまだ足りないの」
「そうなんですか」
「そうなのよ。一所懸命と思っている人は、たいてい自分のために懸命なだけで、そうじゃなくて、恋人のためにつくるようにつくればいいのよ。わたしはそうするの。そうすると、一所懸命の他にもうひとつ大切なものが加わるでしょう?」
「ああ……」
つまり、それはもしかしてもしかすると、あおいさんは恋とか愛のことを言っているのだろうか。
「なんてね、嘘よ」
「え?」
「嘘、嘘。そんなこと考えてのぼせあがっていたら、ちっともおいしいものなんかできやしないもの」

スープがなくたって、そんなに困りません。
でも、あったらいいよね、て思います。
そんな「あったらいいよね」がたくさん散りばめられた小説です。

スープと一緒に、もしくはスープの替わりに、空気公団の音楽とともに月船町に訪れてみてはいかかでしょうか。

単行本

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