Melissa Clark's Rustic Shrimp Bisque with Fennel


A little about me —

There is no way I can cook

if the counter isn’t clean.

Some will say

it’s an inherited characteristic, a seemingly

random thing that isn’t

random at all.

Like sweaty hands, a sweet tooth,

or whether one sees the glass as half empty

or half full.

By the time I am home

on the day before giving thanks

my mind is somewhere else —

far from the counter — and the

fennel, leeks, and twin stalks of old celery

float towards me

waiting aptly for my hands to

find the knife.

I clean as I go; an itchy pleasurable pain.

At four o’clock my kitchen catches late day sun

the way I need it to catch sometimes

to remind me of what I have and to stop —

Melissa Clark’s Rustic Shrimp Bisque with Fennel

is the recipe

where the butter pats lose shape

in a piping hot pot with salt, shells, wine, two caps of brandy,

six cups of water, thyme and a bay leaf.

I take stock —

On the ottoman by the window

and wait fifteen minutes to

strain into a bowl,

pressing on shells before discarding them.

There is lint on the kitchen tile

I wouldn’t mind discarding.

I pick it up — I have to —  and immediately feel

better. Not unlike the feeling when

the shrimp turns pink

in two to four minutes like the recipe says

and the vegetables sauté soft

until softer.

All is going according to plan and that

is the Libra in me.

A few days ago I cooked

a perfect baked ziti in a record

ninety minutes.

Left to get Joe, left

the ziti in the oven to keep warm —

Ruined an otherwise perfect baked ziti,

like I said.

This soup though,

as they say,

was everything.