An Introduction to Food and Magic

Personally, I’ve been thinking about this for a few years. Just imagine how important magic would be if you lived somewhere like the Elder Races universe, or in any of the fantasy-based worlds in popular culture. And then think about how central food is to our lives. Not only do we need food to survive, but we build elaborate social structures around the partaking and sharing of food.

Holidays, family traditions, celebrations… in many of these, food and drink play a central part. We all have that fond memory, or that dish we always make for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah. We remember the tastes from our childhood, those comfort rituals, the delicious pie (or bread, or stuffing) that our mom or dad always used to bake.

It’s logical to believe that people would bring these two things together and explore all the many ways that food and magic can be enjoyed.

There are famous examples of magical food in fiction. For example, in the Chronicles of Narnia, Turkish delight was the ultimate temptation and Edmund’s downfall. (This fascinated me as a child, because I’d never eaten or seen Turkish delight.) And in the Lord of the Rings, the Elven lembas was magically refreshing.

I’ve had something similar in my universe, called Elven wayfarer bread. I’ve also had healing potions in my universe, which is also not a new concept. Role-playing games have had healing potions for years. And in American Witch I talk about simples, tinctures, unguents, and potions that the main character, Molly, learns to create.

But I think the intersection of food and magic would be much more saturated and profound in various cultures. Toward the end of Moonshadow, Robin gives Sophie sweets that provide her with emotional, spiritual, and physical refreshment.  In Lionheart, I make mention of a magical wine that gives visions to those who drink it. (I plan on exploring that one further at some point.)

And what if a bright baker with magical talent decided to create cinnamon buns that gave people an extra lift in the mornings and turned it into a national franchise? What if children’s birthday cakes could be made so that images of their favorite superheroes sprang out when you sliced it? Or, perhaps more frequently, rainbows that shone out of layered rainbow cakes?

Naturally there are more sinister things that can happen with magic and food. Poisons, perhaps attempts at mind control, and curses, to name just a few, and those would certainly be worthwhile to touch upon.

Anyway, I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this series of articles. This could end up being something longer term, or I might feel like I’ve taken it as far as I can after three or four posts. We’ll have to take the journey together and see…