Magic and Alchemy in the Kitchen
I am an avid reader, fiction, non-fiction, magazines, leaflets even labels…if there’s writing on it I read it. One of the habits I have noticed recently in my reading is being drawn towards food writing. Not so strange you may say considering that is what you write about and work with, but you see it’s more than that.
The fiction I have been drawn to recently has been about the alchemy and magic of food preparation. Now this isn’t a new thing, hearth magic is something that fascinates me, I’m not talking witch stirring a cauldron type magic, or making food appear out of thin air whilst your broom sweeps the kitchen on it’s own. I’m talking about the magic that happens when you prepare food.
If you’re like me you love having the time to make a meal from scratch, you plan your meal, collect your ingredients and chop, sauté, roast, baste, boil and prepare them with a love of what you do and a vision of what the final dish will look like. My Mum always claims you can taste the love in anything prepared for you by another be it a sandwich or a cup of tea, I think she is right.
Food since ancient times has had a magical connection. People left food as offerings to Gods, used food as protection for a new home or feasted to celebrate the changing seasons. Some of these traditions have continued today, how many of us have baked a Birthday cake to bring luck and love to the Birthday Guy or Gal?
It struck me that my bedtime reading Chocolat by Joanne Harris is openly about alchemy and magic in chocolate, it links Easter with earlier pagan rites and the heroine of the tale Vianne is very aware of the effect her food has on her customers.
One of my other casual reads at the moment is Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham, ooo Wicca isn’t that woowoo. Well it depends on your point of view, for me the fascination is learning about the ancient lore and rites surrounding certain food and also thinking more about the foods I choose to put in my body, if eating more wheat can attract more money I don’t mind giving it a whirl.
I am a great believer that our bodies tell us what we should be eating. That if we eat a healthy diet and listen to our bodies when we feel a little off balance, we can be lead to the mineral or vitamin we are lacking by our desire for certain foods. I say if you eat a healthy diet because believe me if you live on a diet of high fat high salt food that will be all your body will crave and you will be a long way from your body being able to tell you what you need to eat.
So before you dismiss the alchemy and magic of food just take a little time today to listen to what your body is saying, if you’re feeling a little low try a meal with bright colours tomatoes, sweet peppers, carrots, avocado I bet you have at least a little lift in spirits.
Another way food can lift the spirits or evoke vivid memories is through scent. This week I have been doing my training with Weleda and one of the important points raised was if someone dislikes the smell of a product, be the lead plant rose, almond, iris or pomegranate, then that product is not right for the person at this precise time. It is the same with food. Here’s a little test…Walk into your kitchen and open either the ground ginger or cinnamon jar, now what does that make you think of…I bet it’s Christmas and I bet a memory that makes you smile just popped into your head, that my dear is part of the alchemy and magic of food.
So just for today follow what your body tells you, what do you feel you need to eat? You may need to sit quietly away from the hustle and bustle of a busy work day but I bet you find something that scratches your itch, and just before you eat your chosen food take a deep breath and breathe in it’s scent, how does it make you feel? It’s worth a try, you never know you may learn something new about yourself.