Minnie Mouse's Smoky Cheese Soup
(by Aljean Harmetz,
The New York Times magazine,
"Most of the Disney gang are vegetarians," said Minnie Mouse. "I'm not quite sure why, but I suspect cartoon carnivores just weren't endearing enough for Mr. Disney."
More than 20 years after his death, Minnie still speaks of her creator with reverence. She is what he made her in 70 cartoons--a bashful 36-inch-tall black mouse who invariably met danger with hysterics, often wore short red skirts with white polka dots and almost always played a supporting role to Mickey or Pluto--except in the kitchen. "I've been cooking ever since 'The Picnic' in 1930," she said. Although she gets great pleasure from preparing meals for Mickey and whatever members of the gang that affable and outgoing mouse has invited along for supper, today Minnie is clearly a Thoroughly Modern Mouse. "Call me Ms. Mouse," she said with a smile. Laughing at herself is as much a liberation for Minnie as her flirtation with feminism. For years the bland girlfriend who stood in one corner of the screen and wrung her white-gloved paws waiting for Mickey to rescue her, Ms. Mouse has stopped waiting. Did she and Mickey ever get married? Mr. Disney threw a veil of coyness over the private life of his two stars, but one of Minnie's admirers, the British novelist E.M. Forster, wrote about the romance in 1934:
"Without him, her character shines not."
"Que sera, sera," Minnie said mysteriously. Meanwhile, she takes Spanish lessons, attends aerobics classes and has designed herself a new wardrobe. Last year she starred in her own television special, "Totally Minnie."
The shops at Disneyland and Disney World are full of such Totally Minnie sportswear as red-and-black sweatsuits.
In her cuisine, Minnie has moved beyond such Depression-era specialties as toasted cheese sandwiches, Cheddar puff hors d'oeuvres and cubes of Swiss on crackers. Now it's cheese with a flair. She is particularly fond of her unusual smoky cheese soup recipe, because it can be prepared ahead of time, and Ms. Mouse is busy these days. She recently served the soup at a dinner party to introduce Roger and Jessica Rabbit to the other stars in Disney's stable of characters. Before the party, she stopped off at the gym to bench-press 50 pounds and do a half hour on the stationary bicycle.
Ducks, cows, and rabbits can be finicky guests, and Roger did tend to scoop up the pieces of diced carrots first, but Minnie judged the recipe a success when there was not even a spoonful left for Pluto.
SMOKY CHEESE SOUP
1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, carrots, celery and the rosemary. Cook until softened, about three minutes.
2. Stir in the white pepper, paprika, and the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, without browning, for two minutes.
3. Slowly whisk in the stock, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently, partially covered, for 20 minutes.
4. Add the cheese and cook, stirring, until the cheese melts and the soup is smooth. Add the Sherry.
5. Serve hot, garnishing each portion with a sprinkling of diced red pepper and zucchini.
Yield: eight servings.