Cooking By Moonlight
by Karri Ann Allrich
Cooking is a magical act. The transformation of simple ingredients (like tomatoes, garlic, and onions) to a fortifying meal (spaghetti sauce,) is cook’s alchemy, kitchen chemistry. Food has the double duty of not only nourishing the body, but also nourishing the spirit. For many Pagans and Wiccans, the concept of cooking for the body and spirit can be elevated to a sacred act, part of a ritual and an expression of gratitude for the bounty of the earth.
Karri Ann Allrich takes this concept of sacred cooking and uses food to create and promote an atmosphere of love, health, creativity, prosperity, and even sensuality, simply by creating delicious meals that resonate with the diners. Remember how good Mom’s chicken soup tasted when you were sick with a cold? It was not only the ingredients of the soup that made you feel better, but the fact that Mom was cooking it just for you, and cared enough to do so.
Ms Allrich’s cooking philosophy is based on the seasons and cycles, the turning of the Wheel of the Year and the phases of the moon. She suggests eating foods that strengthen systems during the waxing moon, celebratory foods during full moon, foods that cleanse and fortify during the waning moon, and fasting during new moon. This may not be practical for everyone, but it can introduce the notion of establishing a rhythm or cycle to one’s hectic life.
By the conscious choosing of foods and by paying attention to not only the body’s nutritional needs, but its emotional needs as well, Ms Allrich has created some gourmet-caliber menus for each month’s moon, all chosen with their distinct magical properties in mind, all completely suited the season in which they’re eaten. You wouldn’t eat a hot apple pie in the middle of summer, would you? No, you wait until fall, when the apples are at their ripest and the days shorter and colder.
The menus include everything from scintillating appetizers to satisfying desserts. Who could resist a summer dinner that starts with a Summer Berry Smoothie and Avocado and Roasted Red Pepper Quesadillas, continues with Santa Fe Rice and Crabmeat Enchiladas, and ends with Frozen Margarita Pie? Or a light spring brunch with a Lemony Chicken Caesar Salad, Gingery Carrot Soup, Grecian Quiche and Coconut Cake for dessert?
The only real flaw in this book is there is not one single “month menu” that is strictly vegetarian. While Ms Allrich does encourage the use of free-range eggs and organic meats, those who do not eat meat are left to substitute soy meats (if that is their preference) or skip the item entirely. It would have been considerate to vegetarians to have an entire menu without the use of meat. Otherwise, this is a worthy addition to any cookbook collection and a boon to those wanting to bring spirituality into the kitchen.