Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Mmmmm... Bisque

Hi. My name is Emilin, and I am recovering from an eating disorder.

I’m a feminist, and I love food. I love eating out. I enjoy a wide variety of foods. Even though I often find recipes tedious, I enjoy cooking. I have a knack for combining foods and herbs and oils in perfectly original yet tasty ways. I really like cheese.

And I have been a restrictive eater since I was twelve years old. At times, I would be healthy, eat well, and keep a normal weight. Other times, I would find myself refusing food, craving the hunger pangs, and watching the scale. I have been known to rejoice privately over the extent to which my hip bones stick out in front of my navel. Diet pills have been a secret addiction from time to time. I was first caught with them when I was thirteen.

Whatever it is that caused me to function this way, it’s something that has disrupted my life. All in all, I have a good relationship with food, and my attempts at counting calories and fat grams were short-lived. The tracking of my consumption was a matter of self-discipline. Whether it started so I could be Thin and therefore Beautiful is debatable. It has become a way to control something in my life when there’s something going wrong.

I know now when I’m starting to slip into the old patterns of restriction. It’s almost always caused by stress, and once the stress lifts, I gain a little weight. At one point, I lost twenty percent of my body weight over the course of a year. Even though I know that there’s a problem and I seek to correct it, it comes in waves and my weight yo-yos. Research indicates that yo-yo dieting can lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and gallbladder disease. Those are things I don’t currently have and will never need.

My mother died last month. The last two months of her life, I commuted several days a week, one hundred miles each way, so that I could work and take care of her and my father. The last four months of her life, it became patently clear that she was very, very sick. I knitted furiously. I drank wine. I didn’t have the time or the energy or the enthusiasm for eating. But I fed her as much as I could. Her favorite was the mushroom bisque. Right now, I weigh about what I did when I was fourteen, and I’ve grown three inches since then. I need to eat more mushroom bisque. So do you.

Mushroom Bisque

8T butter
1# mushrooms, minced
2 shallots, minced
4C broth or stock
6T all-purpose flour
4C half and half
2T sherry
1 bunch parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Melt 2T butter in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and shallots. Sauté 5 minutes. Add broth/stock and set aside on low heat. Melt 6T butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. In another saucepan, bring 3C half and half (milk may be substituted) to a boil. Add the hot half and half all at once to the butter-flour mixture, stirring vigorously with a whisk until smooth. Add 1C half and half (don’t substitute this part unless it’s with cream), mushroom mixture, and sherry. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with chopped parsley. The bisque will keep in the refrigerator up to 1 week.

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