The Mystic Cookbook – the secret alchemy of food
Denise Linn & Meadow Linn
Every now and then – although I might say not often enough – a book comes along that is so original, such a good idea that from the moment you hold it in your hands, you know immediately you’re in for a treat.
The sort of book that makes you think – how come nobody thought of that before; the sort of book that most literally in the case of The Mystic Cookbook gives you food for thought, and in this case, thought for food.
Denise Linn, a Hay House author from way back, and her chef-daughter Meadow came up with the idea to create a cookbook that marries food and cooking with spirituality. For me there is a sense in this beautiful book of bringing a mindful awareness to food in the same way we might to meditation.
It made me realise that even though I love to cook, and even though the house is often full of people enjoying feasts and food, I hadn’t really realised how easy is to fall into the many traps our fast-paced world offers us. How often do we eat on the run, for instance, or eat perched at the end of a messy table, or in front of the TV, or really without much thought at all as to where our food has come from, why we’re eating what we’re eating, or what we could do to make the experience just that bit more special.
Denise and Meadow Linn
The book, which is full of mouth-watering photographs, and clever design, as well as tasty recipes and stories, is designed to help us understand the link between physical sustenance and spiritual awakening.
At a simple level this might be to appreciate the alchemy that occurs when, for instance, you whisk an egg-yolk and add olive oil to create a sum larger than its parts in the form of mayonnaise. At a more complex level, Meadow suggests that everything is important when it comes to eating food, including the feng shui of the space itself, the music, the table-setting, the spiritual energy and the intention of the meal.
Indian Spiced Vegetables
I literally took the book to heart, and shortly after I’d read it, I made a Valentine’s Day meal, with red food, red candles, red napkins and red roses. It wasn’t a cosy dinner for two – but a family meal filled with the idea of ‘love’. I might have slightly overdone it with the strawberry ice-cream and the strawberries with extra cream coloured with red food colour, but it was fun while the sugar hit lasted!
In truth, I couldn’t say I’ve completely got rid of my messy, throw-a-meal-together cooking style, but I’m certainly bringing more awareness to our meals, that’s for sure, and we are all enjoying the benefits of that.
There’s a wonderful chapter on getting rid of kitchen clutter, for example, and I must say it had never occurred to me how much this can affect the general feel of the kitchen. The book cites the kind of ‘stuff’ kitchens accumulate over the years – broken gadgets, pots we don’t use, cookbooks we don’t open, ancient tins and condiments and goodness knows what else. I don’t know how true it is of your kitchen but it’s certainly true of mine after over 30 years cooking for my family. I’ve taken the Linn mantra to heart: ‘Use it, love it, or get rid of it!’ It hurts, but it works.
The recipes themselves are magical – simple and unbelievably tasty. Try the Tuscan White Beans with Sage, the delicious Italian Prune Clafoutis or the Asian Zucchini Pancakes for mouth-watering food that is easy to prepare.
Although the book is not vegetarian per se, there is a predominance of vegetarian meals in the recipes, and a focus on dairy-free, gluten-free and fresh, home-grown or market produce.
Chez moi, we have to cater for gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance, my vegetarian diet, and my son’s and partner’s meat-eating diets! It’s a complex matter, making a meal in my house, but thanks to The Mystic Cookbook it’s just been made a whole heap easier.
Publisher: Hay House, available from Amazon, HayHouse.com, and wherever books are sold, rrp $19.95