The Hobbit Menu | Vanilla Spice Lembas

Lembas: tasty enough for Pippin to justify eating four servings. Continue reading “The Hobbit Menu | Vanilla Spice Lembas”

Advertisements

The Hobbit Menu | Farmer Maggot’s Rosemary-Vegetable Pasties

Hobbits aren’t known for adding bells and whistles to their mixing bowls. A sprinkle of sage – or here, rosemary – never hurt Frodo or his Halfling comrades, however, and sets this particular pasty apart from those baked outside of Farmer Maggot’s kitchen. Continue reading “The Hobbit Menu | Farmer Maggot’s Rosemary-Vegetable Pasties”

The Hobbit Menu | ‘Tatoe and ‘Matoe Egg Scramble

Po-ta-toes. Boil ’em, mash ’em, stick ’em in a stew…Or, in this case, a couple of hearty eggs. Continue reading “The Hobbit Menu | ‘Tatoe and ‘Matoe Egg Scramble”

If A Hobbit Had An Eating Disorder

Aside from a tidbit on Samwise Gamgee’s eldest daughter, Elanor, we are largely uninformed about the rest of his family after the events of The Lord of the Rings. Sam and his wife, Rosie, had 13 children total before Sam sailed to The Undying Lands and left the Red Book of Westmarch under the care of Elanor and her line.

Because of this large timespan of uncertainty, we are left to imagine on our own a touch about Sam’s personal life.

What if, after the Shire is fully restored, a new rot takes over the land? What if an unnamed disease grips Sam’s household? What if ever hobbit’s ghastly nightmare comes to life, and little Primrose refuses second breakfast one morning, and one of the first lines in Sam’s account reads something like this:


I THINK I BURNED THE CRUSTS ON THE BLUEBERRY TARTS. I’VE NEVER DONE THAT BEFORE, BUT LITTLE PRIMROSE WON’T EAT THEM, SO I MUST HAVE DONE SOMETHING WRONG.


Commonly, parents of human ED sufferers claim a huge bulk of the blame when it comes to their child’s mental disorder. Momma Smith was heavily into health foods, bought farmer’s market produce, was vegan, hardly went a day without unchaining her bike and perusing 20 miles. Papa Smith was a retired weightlifter, drank protein shakes, ate chicken by the farm-ful. Momma and Papa sometimes commented too harshly on their children’s lack of activity, and the kids already had some genetic propensity to disordered behavior. Do some crunches, Rob, the ladies like rock-hard abs. Annie, go for a run, your legs are looking a bit flabby. If their child winds up with a disorder, the parents would likely think it is their fault.

Hobbits value body fat. Short, stocky frames. Their workouts revolve around food, around farming and cultivating crops and kneading bread for luncheon. If a young hobbit, then, decided to go on extended walking holidays instead of nibbling the crusts off the bread pans, doubtlessly, the hobbit parent would blame himself. But not as human parents do.

The tension would stem from a hobbit parent’s believe that his or her cooking has begun to fail. At least initially, such sentiments would be contained to the individual household. Old Sam makes bacon and eggs for Primrose, just as he has for many a morning past. They’d be perfect, greasy, crispy, with thick yolks and plenty of fat. Little Primrose would fork the dish haphazardly, even hiding bits and pieces in her robe pockets. Sam would likely not notice at first. As time progresses, Primrose claims to head to The Green Dragon for elevenses or afternoon tea, when in reality she’s walking circles near Bywater, maybe eating a biscuit, likely not.

Eating disorders are human ailments; hobbits would not know what the term meant. If a human brought it up, a hobbit would likely chalk it to diets like the Minas Tirith guardsmen – irregular eating hours, namely. Physical illness would be a more logical explanation than a willing non-consumption of food. That’s preposterous. Skipping second breakfast willingly? Pippin would be appalled.

Sam catches on after awhile, seeing Primrose’s stature begin to thin out, much as Frodo looked in their journey together to Mount Doom. He knows, by comparison, that Primrose isn’t eating properly, so he watches her more closely at meal times. She’s always the last to “finish” dinner, and doesn’t scrape up her plates as the other family members do. When asked, she claims the pie tasted funny. Or her stomach feels odd. So Sam gives her some herbs for her tummy, and immediately seeks the Boffins family for cooking lessons. They have a killer mince pie, after all.

The two families start meeting for luncheons, but Primrose still hides food and, at one point, flees the room. Sam and his wife Rosie accuse Old Boffins of adding some despicable spice to the meat. Old Boffins never did such a thing. Sam is slipping in his old age, he’s forgetting how to bake and heat things in the fire. Oh yeah, then why won’t she eat your pies, either, fool of a Boffins?

Meanwhile, Primrose smells bread everywhere she goes. She wants it, but won’t let herself have it.

The conflict boils down to this: Where did Primrose adapt such mindsets? Since I mentioned before that eating disorders are human afflictions, it’d be safe to assume that she was influenced by an outside visitor who suffered from a restriction cycle of some sort. Perhaps a human tourist from Bree who had mentally photographed the svelte physiques of the Elves, with their curving collarbones beneath their vests, long legs, strong fingers bred for bowstrings. It’s unclear as to if humans in Middle Earth ever had eating disorders, but we can go by the assumption that it was possible under certain circumstances. So this girl from Bree’s behavior somehow rubs onto Primrose – who was insecure in the first place, had Bilbo’s disease (a desire to go on adventures and do things unexpected), felt cloistered by The Shire, felt like she lacked control in her life.

When Sam eventually realizes that not every hobbit cook in The Shire can be a failure, the supernatural would occur to him next. Saruman gripped The Shire during the Scouring earlier in his life. Maybe his evil influence hadn’t completely fled, or some other dark power was attempting reign. Where was Gandalf when he needed him? Primrose grew thinner and weaker by every day. Very un-hobbit-like. Diseases are signs of chaos. Perhaps another war was on the verge of happening. Where sickness thrives, bad things will follow.

Humans and hobbits with eating disorders in Middle Earth. In literature, plagues and illness are often the first signs of impending doom. Mirkwood is an effective symbol of this: when Sauron takes over Dol Goldur, spiders begin roaming the woodlands in great numbers, the vegetation dies, the skies turn bleak. Sebastian the hedgehog is overwhelmed by dark sorcery. Blackness. Illness.

Men are cited as the most susceptible to evil influences. Look at Boromir and his lust for the One Ring. So darkness is present during Sam’s era and his final chapter in the Red Book. Children of men begin falling into disordered habits – starvation, binge/purge, losing weight rapidly. Hobbits like Primrose are the last step in this chaotic reign, as hobbits are the most secluded  to overbearing evil, but Primrose does eventually.

Sam would be right. It is virtually impossible for a hobbit to take on an eating disorder in normal circumstances. In the world of Middle Earth, sickness derives from evildoers. Dragon-sickness because of excessive wealth. Lands dying because of the Dark Lord in his tower. Men feeling greed, betraying their friends, betraying themselves, for a shiny golden ring.

       Dark power

        |

         ED in humans

        |

          ED in hobbits

That’s a basic diagram. The gullibility of men is the downfall of many eras in Middle Earth – Isildur, most notably. So Primrose has to learn ED behaviors from a human, and the human from a higher source.

Saruman was definitely driven out upon the stabbing of Grima his servant. It took awhile, though, to restore The Shire. Primrose could only adapt ED behaviors early in her life, then, as the hobbits swept clean the gardens and fields of the land. Evil cannot be driven out overnight, so its last tendrils caused eating disorders in children.

When Saruman’s touch was entirely confined to the grave, then Primrose begins to heal (as does the child from Bree.) Sam apologizes to Old Boffins as Primrose munches down on his mince pie, and friendships are amended. Sam grows confident in his blueberry tart. Primrose gobbles it up happily, and her stomach expands into a typical hobbit chub. Walking holidays are occasional, and always taken with the family or a friend or two. Saruman is ousted, and Primrose’s disorder is cured.

The eating disorder cannot be blamed on the hobbit. It was the result of an evil much stronger than swords and arrows. Primrose’s eating disorder took much nurturing to heal, the planting of many new seeds of both trees and thought, and the sweeping passage of time.


GALADRIEL’S TREES ARE FLOURISHING. PRIMROSE LOVES MY BACON AGAIN. SARUMAN IS GONE, AND THE SHIRE IS TEEMING WITH LIFE AND LAUGHTER, THOUGH THE BREAD AND JAM NEVER SEEMS TO LAST MORE THAN FIVE MINUTES AT OUR TABLE.


 photo sources: 1 and 2