Excerpt from "The Mystic Cookbook"
The Mystical Spice of Life
by Denise and Meadow Linn
Do you want to have a spicy, passionate, mystical life? You might consider spicing up your life with . . . well, spices. Herbs and spices throughout the ages have taken on nearly mythical proportions. The heady scents and aromas of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger are enough to make anyone dream of far-off lands, magic carpet rides, and Grandma’s apple pie. Even though in our current times spices are simply flavorings, as you step into the realm of the Mystic Chef, you can tune in to a spice to invoke its secret alchemical power. In ancient times, it was believed that every spice had a hidden, mystical quality that could be ignited by those who knew how to communicate with the spice. Activate the potent energy of spices, and your life will be filled with delicious spice alchemy. Your cooking will go from delicious to transformative.
Spices first became popular in the Western world during the Crusades. Paradise was believed to reside in the East, so naturally since many spices also came from the East, it was thought they grew in the Promised Land and carried the magic and mystery of that far-off mysterious land. For example, allspice was considered a lucky spice, and its mystical power was used to ignite abundance. It was also burned as an incense to attract prosperity. And bay leaves were used by ancient Greeks to increase psychic powers. However, the magical allure of spices is not limited to the far past; Tulsi (also known as Holy Basil) is one of the most sacred plants in India. In present day, it’s thought to open the heart center and thus bestow love and devotion.
Spice alchemy is a powerful combination of belief, spirit, and substance. A sprinkle of this and a hint of that can completely transform something ordinary into something extraordinary. Imagine mulled cider without cinnamon or eggnog without nutmeg. What about molasses cookies without ginger and cloves or potatoes without cracked black pepper? Not to mention Indian curries without turmeric, coriander, and cardamom; Mexican food without cumin and chili powder; or Italian sausage without fennel and dried herbs. Nearly everything we eat has some form of herbs and spices in it, from the salt and pepper that’s sprinkled over a simple steak to the more exotic combinations used in soups, stocks, and curries. Imagine how much more potent those foods would be if you activate the secret life force within the spices before using them.
Herbs and spices are one of your most potent allies in the kitchen. When creating spice alchemy in your kitchen, be like the ancient alchemists and play around with the spices in your cupboard to see what exciting blends and flavors you can create. Take a moment to tune in to the mystical qualities of each spice. Imagine that you’re “asking” the spice what quality it’s bringing into your home, and then invite it to activate that quality in the food you’re preparing. This is the secret that turns a spice into something much more than just a flavoring.
It can be as simple as holding the spice in your hand and tuning in to the energy it will bring to your meal. Then visualize energy flowing from your hands into the spices, thus activating the mystical energy within them. Turn plain chicken breast into a tasty meal with a handful of energized fresh herbs or a blend of aromatic spices. Voilà, “Cosmic Chicken”! To create “Divine Dal,” add a spoonful of curry powder and a dash of grated ginger (that you have charged with energy) to lentils, and the rich and delicious staple of Indian cuisine comes alive. With a sprinkle of blessing-infused cinnamon and nutmeg, suddenly plain oatmeal transforms into “Blessing Oatmeal.”
One of the best ways to understand the powerful alchemy of your spices is to smell them. Unscrew the caps on your spice jars, close your eyes, and inhale deeply. What do you smell? Perhaps when you sniff the jar of cinnamon, you just smell cinnamon, but it’s likely that its heady scent will fill your mind with images of applesauce, warm coffee cake, blueberry pie, Mexican hot chocolate, Indian rice dishes, or any other assortment of foods and memories that its smell evokes for you. Or perhaps images of camel caravans of antiquity or carting bags of spices across the golden desert swirl in your mind.
Go through each of your spices and familiarize yourself not just with their scents but also with the thoughts, feelings, and memories that they elicit from you. For instance, the scent of oregano might recall happy feelings of summers during your childhood spent playing in a neighbor’s garden, and perhaps dill makes you feel comforted since it was your dad’s favorite herb. Consider doing this once with your eyes closed to see if you can correctly identify the herbs and spices, and then do it with your eyes open. You may even want to take notes on the memories that each smell brings forth. When you cook with these spices, you can imbue your culinary creations not only with the flavors of the spices and their innate mystical energy, but also with the power of your memories. This is the secret alchemy of infusing your food with spice energy.
You might consider making a spice “dictionary” in your journal. Record what spice scents you like, what memories and emotions each one recalls, and what mystical powers you’ve discovered when you’ve tuned in to each one.
Learning to harness the secret alchemy of spices can transport you across oceans, over mountains, and through time to connect with different cultures and periods in history, which can lead to greater depths of understanding and powerful transformation. For instance, when combined together, mint, basil, and cilantro are the “holy trinity” of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Add those three herbs to any salad or stir-fry, and suddenly you you’re in a longboat on the Mekong. Mix fresh mint with carrots, and you’re in an opulent palace in Casablanca. Cilantro, cumin, and chili can transport you to Mexican jungles and beaches of bright blue water. And ginger, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, and coriander invite images of Hindu gods and goddesses. One taste of basil and oregano and you’re in an Italian seaside village, and the wafting aroma of rosemary and thyme sends you on an odyssey to the South of France.
As a suggestion, spend time learning about the herbs and spices used in different kinds of cuisine. This will be beneficial as you tap into your inner spice alchemist. Mix, match, add, dash, and concoct your way to a spice-filled life!
Denise and Meadow Linn have infused the The Mystic Cookbook with spiritual essence and collective knowledge from their vast travels and experiences around the globe. Denise (www.DeniseLinn.com), is an international lecturer and healer, who is also the author of 18 books, including Sacred Space and Soul Coaching, as well as a personal memoir, If I Can Forgive, So Can You! She has been a featured guest on Oprah, Lifetime, Discovery Channel, BBC TV, NBC and CBS, and is a popular radio talk-show host. Meadow (www.MeadowLinn.com) writes a food and lifestyle column for a newspaper in Seattle and has a well respected blog Savor the Day. She is the inventive chef for the workshops that she and her mother present around the world. A French teacher with a Masters Degree in French Cultural Studies from Columbia University, she gave up her eight-year teaching career to devote herself to helping others savor their lives more fully. Blending her academic background with her spiritual upbringing, she makes eating and living well become something that seems easily attainable, tasty, and fun.
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