Why did I choose to read this book?
It was a lucky find! I saw it in a charity shop for £1.50 and had to get it.
In a nutshell, what it is it about?
It does what it says on the cover! A collection of recipes selected for the magical significance of their ingredients, preparation method, appearance or cultural associations. There’s over 300 recipes in here, including main meals, snacks, desserts and drinks. Additionally, there’s quite a lot of explanation how to bring magic into one’s cooking, as well a large collection of appendices and lists of the magical properties of particular foods and items.
What did I particularly like about it?
Admittedly, I haven’t actually tried any of the recipes in here yet (I am a *very* reluctant cook), so all my opinions are based entirely on the writing and not on the tasting! But judging on the writing alone, I thought this was a very good book on magical cuisine. Written with that friendly, engaging tone that can be found in many Llewellyn publications, it’s very easy to follow and, appropriately enough, digestible. And the concept of “kitchen magic” is fantastic; as Telesco puts it, “Magic is no longer just for the Circle; it is no longer the occasional book read or spell performed – herein, magic becomes part of everyday experiences and expressions, specifically those involving food.”
I also loved the level of detail in A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook; the additional explanations about kitchen magic and other pointers, right down to the presentation of the food and dining table, are almost as long as the main recipe sections themselves.
Speaking of the recipes, I liked that they were a good mix of both more complicated dishes and those with very basic recipes, such as for making pesto. The inclusion of really simple dishes put me, as a complete novice, a lot more at ease. I also liked how varied from there, drawn from many different cultures’ cuisines. Some were really creative as well, such as the idea of making chips out of sliced bagel – what a great idea!
Finally, I liked the overall presentation. The book is peppered with nice illustrations and quotes about food and cooking from famous people, adding to its appeal.
Was there anything I didn’t like about it?
Just a few nitpicks, really. I thought it would have benefited from a proper index, including an index of recipes based on particular sabbats and festivals as I’d find this particularly useful. I was also a little surprised that, among the huge variety of different recipes from different cultures, there were a few notable absences – there was no recipe for Samhain Soul Cakes, for example. Finally, while I liked the illustrations, most of them weren’t of the actual dishes described. Having a few pictures of the dishes themselves would have been helpful.
How has it helped my spiritual development?
A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook has reinforced for me the idea of bringing magic and Pagan ritual into everyday activities, and emphasised the importance of home cooking within the Pagan lifestyle. I only hope I can get over my fear of cooking and actually put some of the recipes to the test!
Would I recommend this book to others?
Yes – and despite the title, I think this book is just as suitable for Pagans who do not practise magic as those that do. I also think that the broad range of dishes means that the book would appeal both to Pagans with a lot of experience of magical and ritual cooking, as well as Pagans such as myself who are less confident about cooking and need something to gently encourage them!