Stone soup

From Academic Kids

The fable of the stone soup is about co-operation amid scarcity.

According to the story, some travellers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty pot. Upon their arrival the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the travellers. The travellers fill the pot with water and a large stone, and place it over a fire in the village square. Asked what they're doing, they reply that they are making "stone soup", and request a bit of garnish to improve the flavor. Additional villagers come by, each adding more ingredients. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all.

This fable can be thought of as "The Emperor's New Clothes" in reverse, where nothing is revealed to be something, after all. The original stone was only a pretext to start the villagers sharing in a way that they would not have considered without the catalyst of the "stone soup" that they thought they were improving.

The free Fractint software was written by the "Stone Soup Group", named after this fable. Copyleft endeavours, including the GNU project and Wikipedia, can also be regarded as embodying the stone soup principle.

According to national tradition, the events described in the "stone soup" tale took place around Almeirim, Portugal. To this day, there's hardly a restaurant in Almeirim which doesn't serve stone soup ("sopa de pedra").

An episode of Land of the Lost (1974 television series) is titled "Stone Soup", and features a storyline making use of this fable.

External links

nl:Steensoep ja:石のスープ pt:Sopa de pedra

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