There’s a good chance pagans will love The Magic Book of Cookery but they’re not the only ones in for a culinary treat. Danaan Elderhill has gathered together recipes that, according to the author, were created by a Bohemian witch convent in the 17th century. The original book, along with the convent, disappeared, but that doesn’t stop Elderhill from improvising. Dozens of interesting recipes along with their corresponding rituals are offered. All are aimed at achieving a particular goal, whether it’s love, good health, financial success or peace. There are also plenty of the author’s own watercolor illustrations which add a perfect dash of whimsy.
Each of the dishes is steeped in ritual. To improve love relationships, for example, the book directs readers to cook rainbow trout with rosewater extract and mint leaf cream sauce. While stirring the sauce, cooks are further instructed to: “Visualize two swans flying together in the open blue sky and say over and over ‘I call upon the forces of love to infuse their power…’” No part of the romance-enhancing dinner experience is ignored. There are also special instructions on how to set the table, blessings to say before and after the meal and amulets to keep handy.
On a more practical level, the ingredients for meals are easily available in most food stores. There’s neither eye of newt nor lizard’s leg in any of the recipes. Instead, envision quail, salmon, meatballs, honey, olive oil and rosemary, among other luscious ingredients. The author always suggests using fresh foods when possible, which any gourmet will appreciate, along with the adherence to the slow food movement, one which discourages preparing meals in a hurried, unconscious way.
The Magic Book of Cookery not only convinces readers that food is scrumptious and powerful, but its otherworldly abundance of mystical incantations and pagan rituals, as well its ethereal design, add an extra dash of interest to this unique concoction.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.