Have you ever noticed that certain places are just… magical?
These places are deep in the mountains where moss grows beneath bare feet and majestic grandfather trees invite an upward gaze. Something about being among ancient trees and the smell of the spongy forest floor makes us feel alive.
The connection to our surroundings can be transmuted into the foods we prepare with love. Nuances of a magical place, local whimsical ingredients, and the feelings of hope and contentment that place gives us can be incorporated into our recipes. It reminds me of a story I once heard about a Latina Abuela. (I don’t remember where I originally heard or read this story, so forgive my lack of reference.)
Abuela would make the family fresh tortillas every day, humming as she did so. One day a salesman came to the door offering to sell Abuela a tortilla-maker. Abuela kindly refused, but the salesman was persistent: “It will save you so much time. You won’t have to spend all day rolling and cooking. The tortilla-maker does it all!” Finally, Abuela explained herself to the salesman, “I cannot use your tortilla-maker. You see, it is actually my love which nourishes my family. The tortillas are simply the vehicle to get my love into them.”
In Perfect Health, Deepak Chopra claims that foods which are not necessarily good for us can become more nourishing if we think positive thoughts about the foods and are grateful for the nourishment. Such an interesting concept!
Mindfulness and place are powerful tools we can use to imbue our meals with magic and love. “Am I inspired by my surroundings? Do they appeal to my eyes, ears, nose, intuition, or spiritual sense?” asks Jim Merkel in Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. With this sentiment, I’d like to share a recipe I made quite a while ago: Carrot Cake Cupcakes.
I made them at a very special place in rural Tennessee while doing a food fermentation apprenticeship there in 2010. Everything about the setting and people I met was ultra-inspirational to me and pivotal in my life. The people, accepting and kind, the place, a foresty cabin in the Smoky Mountains; these are some of my most treasured memories.
In fact, unhappy at my recent job, I looked into my past to find where I was most interested, happy, hopeful and engaged, and the time I spent in Tennessee shone like a full moon in a black night sky. “Follow your bliss, go where you body and soul want you to go. The key is to identify the things that make you not just excited, not just thrilled, but deeply happy. Having discovered them, stick with them, found your life on them, for therein lies your destiny,” advises Joseph Campbell. Remembering all of the delicious foods we created in the mountains (tempeh, bubbly red bud mead, wild weeds pesto) and the satisfaction and peace I garnered from living among the plants is what led me to decide to leave the city and to begin wwoofing.
By having an open agendum and mind and feeling my way through this adventure, I hope to be better able to follow my bliss and intuition. I hope to be able to recognize the magic, follow it, and saturate the nourishment I create for those I love and those I meet with it.
How can you make your setting more conducive to cultivating magic in your foods? My suggestions are below.
- De-clutter, give away unnecessary things, or start with a clean slate if need be.
- Plant a garden with native flowers to attract local butterflies, birds and bees. Flowers, especially edible ones, are a very magical garnish.
- Spend more time at home making your place somewhere you want to be and less time at work, however you can accomplish that. Mix well with time in Nature, whether that be Central Park or Redwood National Forest.
- Play music that brings you to that special state of illumination.
- Use more herbs and spices in your recipes; grow them yourself. Smells are powerful; let them ignite the magic in your recipes.
- If you know of a magical place, take an inspiration vacation and reinvent your home when you return.
- Or, move to that place that has always spoken to your soul.
- Spend quality time with your muses.
- Create and produce more than you consume.
- Or, if you are like me, you may not be exactly sure what the ideal setting is for you. Pay attention to what makes your soul sing; try keeping a journal of these gifts. Living as a nomad for a time will give you a chance to experience many different climates and communities. After a short time, if we are paying attention, we’ll be able hone our unique ideal habitats.
- Do not let fear stop you from living out what you love: “Too many of us sit on the sidelines of fear and doubt, unable to contribute to a world in need of our brilliance.” – Chris Guillebeau
Fairy princess, signing off.