Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Restaurant for anorexics

May 5, 2005

Sehnsucht, (means longing in German) is the name of a Berlin restaurant for anorexics. Owner Katja Eichbaum, formely anorexic, started this project with private funding (only her father would lend her money) as a therapy for her own condition. The chef is anorexic as are several members of staff. Sehnsucht’s menu items have names that don’t include words for food to avoid confronting anorexics with the fact that they are about to eat. ‘Hallo’ (lobster bisque), ‘Pirate’s Eye’ (2 fishfingers and a fried egg), and ‘Heissehunger’ (ravenous hunger = rack of lamb) are all dishes that non-anorexics might order in ‘normal’ restaurants. But one item on the menu consists simply of a fork, knife, and an empty plate. It is titled ‘Thieves Platter’ and facilitates the anorexic diner to steal (or share) from those dining with her.

As expected the restaurant has received a huge amount of international publicity. And although I have not yet eaten at there, relying solely on restaurant reviews to inform myself, if Sehnsucht is an attempt to create a location for anorexia patients in the guise of a regular restaurant for the people that love them, it is also a wasted opportunity.

Why not revel in anorexia? Why not serve food items so refined and ’stretched’ like anorexics themselves create on the spot each night at the family dinner table? Anorexics are master chefs and food stylists when placed in the harsh context of the family; hardboiled eggs with the yolks surgically removed, crackers deconstructed so that their total surface area has been increased twenty-fold, slices of bread with each visible grain extracted and displayed on the edge of the plate, utterly dissected broccoli. I say this without having seen Sehnsucht’s menu but hope sincerely that it is not just another do-gooder resto in which the real food on the menu functions only to lure the paying and eating guests.

Listen to this story from NPR (National Public Radio).

debra at 8:38 | | post to del.icio.us

12 Comments »

  1. Hi,

    I found your information on this restaurant very interesting and wondered if you had an address for it?

    Thanks a lot,
    Xav

    Comment by Xav — December 16, 2005 @ 17:08

  2. Dear Xav,

    Thank you for your email. ALthough I have never eaten at SehnSucht, I hope to in February 2006. I looked up an address for it that seems a likely address to work.

    Sehnsucht
    Stadtteil: Tiergarten
    Adresse: Dortmunder Stra├če 12, 10555 Berlin
    Telefon: 030 / 39 95 266
    ├ľffnungszeiten: t├Ągl. 9-23 Uhr

    Hopefully this will get you there. I just tried calling but couldn’t get through, this can mean everything and nothing.

    If you’re calling internationally, dial:

    00 49 then 30 3995 266

    Good luck - let me know how it is!

    Funny, because of you comment/mail, I realise that a lot of ‘reviews’ don’t have addresses and telephone numbers. I’ll start adding these essential forthwith.

    Thanks once again,

    Debra Solomon

    Comment by Debra — December 16, 2005 @ 19:02

  3. I was also wondering if you had the adress to this place? I would really apreciate it if you could send me the adress.

    -Thank-you

    Comment by Anna — January 25, 2006 @ 17:56

  4. And by Anna, do you mean Ana?

    Comment by Debra — April 17, 2006 @ 12:33

  5. Oh my god!
    a restaurant for anorexic is absurd!
    for.. what?
    is like make a cinema for blind! xD
    I’m anna.. (anorexic)
    and never can will go to a restorant especial for anorexic girls..
    I don’t know.. I think this feel very wrong.
    Is a crazzy, (and so bad) idea.

    Comment by hahaa — June 9, 2007 @ 9:50

  6. Dear HaHaa,

    I fail to see why a restaurant for anorexics is a bad idea. There are restaurants for all manner of cultures and tastes and lifestyles and health issues. Why is the world of Anna any different?

    Comment by debra — June 21, 2007 @ 10:25

  7. I think this is a good Idea, I used to be anorexic and I wish I had something like this, someone that understands.

    :]

    Comment by Naomi willis — September 14, 2007 @ 10:16

  8. this is not a good thing/helpful. If you are choosing to be anorexic you are wanting to be different so dont try to find a place to fit in. All that htis restaurant is doing is aiding in slow suiside. btw I am a recovered bulimic-anorexic.

    Comment by bethi — November 1, 2007 @ 18:35

  9. This is a horrible idea. It’s encouraging anorexia and why would anorexics want to reveal their eating disorders by going to this restaurant?

    Comment by . — April 19, 2008 @ 0:51

  10. How could this possibly be a bad idea? It just facilitates the process of dining out for anorexics. Being anorexic, the experience of eating in a restaurant is extremely embarrassing. Special orders make waiters scoff and roll their eyes, and you rarely end up getting what you want in the end. If it is at all possible to make a group of people that feel constantly alienated feel less so, why not?

    Comment by 85 lbs. Get over it. — May 22, 2008 @ 6:14

  11. I agree 85lbs. For further culiblog.org reading, check this out: http://www.culiblog.org/2006/04/anorexia-art-war-rant/

    The cultural phenomenon of intolerance to anorexics is interesting. Somehow being fat is not called an eating disorder and overeating does not get the same horrific reaction as strict diet control.

    Although I’m not trying to say that I think being anorexic is healthy, put in perspective, it’s not particularly MORE unhealthy than overeating and obesity. I am convinced that it is in fact the psychological independence of anorexics that is so offensive to people.

    Obesity kills, and causes disease in individuals. But if you look at the bigger picture, it also affects the entire food system. Overeating causes an entire world of ills in terms of products produced, no one is getting fat on the lightest parts of the food system but on heavy industrialised food products. The impact of obesity on the ENTIRE WORLD IS HUGE.

    It could possibly be the moral superiority of anorexics that just really gets up peoples’ noses.

    Comment by debra — May 22, 2008 @ 9:38

  12. Debra, are you joking?
    Overeating is actually considered an eating disorder, there are clinics for people with this problem.
    Overweight people recieve, if not more, at least the same amount of abuse as underweight people.
    Obesity kills, anorexia kills. They are as bad as each other.
    Debra, you also said this ‘There are restaurants for all manner of cultures and tastes and lifestyles and health issues.’
    Anorexia is not a culture, or lifestyle.
    I find it increadibly wrong for you to refer to it as so.
    It is a phychological disease. It is not a simple health issue such as wheat intolerance.

    How is creating a restaurant serving food for anorexics going to help?
    A recovering anorexic will not want to be put in a room full of other anorexics. They want to be treated like normal people, who go to normal restaurants, who are not surrounded by pressure to watch their weight and what they are eating.

    A sufferer of anorexia will refuse to eat out at all, unless, I guess they go to this restaurant and order the ‘Thieve’s platter’, which is definitely not helping them recover.

    I can easily see this restaurant being abused by ‘wannarexics’. People who do not understand the concept of the disease, and use anorexia as a way to loose weight, the same way they would any other diet.

    I have been to eating disorder units.
    My closest friend has had an eating disorder for years, and has just been re-admitted into hospital. I myself am recovering. I know what I am talking about.

    Comment by __ — May 6, 2009 @ 22:27


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