Believe it or not, tarot cards always exert a certain fascination on everyone, including sceptics, if only because of the beauty of the illustrations. Folklore enthusiasts (or simply history buffs, considering that the origins of the cards are lost in the mists of time) will already be familiar with figures such as The Hanged Man, The Sun, The Moon, but for those new to tarot, there is now a useful and entertaining manual that combines food and tarot.
Divine Your Dinner, one tarot at a time
The authors of Divine Your Dinner were Courtney McBroom and Melinda Lee Holm, passionate cook the former, aspiring witch the latter. Yes, there are also spells in the book, but let's proceed in order: the idea was born during an aperitif and a discussion like many others. Courtney preferred the classic Margarita, simpler and more integral in flavour, Melinda on the other hand the spicy version, because chilli contains the element of fire and channels energies well. Thus began a fun culinary-magic debate, the friends began to play with food and devised menus designed to summon the desired energies. "Call them folk remedies, spells, hippie stuff, but since time immemorial some common ingredients have been used for rituals that are anything but common, and kitchen witches know that food has effects not only on the stomach".
How to read the tarot book in the kitchen
How to use the book? By flicking through it, like any recipe book, and opting for the tastiest recipe. Or using the tarot cards: you shuffle the deck ("until you feel the right energy or at least three times") you spread the cards out on a table and pass your non-dominant hand over them, trying to pick the exact moment to stop. A recipe is associated with each card, but for those who want to dabble in something else, there is also a spell section at the end to stimulate creativity, love, clarity, with matching recipes and tips to increase the effect of the spell, such as adding candles, linen cloths of a specific colour and stones. Of course, the dealer cannot tempt fate without first creating an ad hoc larder: artichoke, for example, helps in personal development, avocado intensifies passion, liquorice root is enough for a bit of protection, while honey ensures eternal hope and longevity. Need to chase away negative energies? A few sesame seeds and you're done, while to ensure fidelity, best to add a little lime to the dishes.
How tarot works
Protagonists, then, are the cards. The descriptions in the book are detailed but those who choose to get involved must first obtain a deck, which is not included in the book (published in 2021). There are 78 cards in all: of these, 56 are the Minor Arcana, organised by suits, while the other 22 are the Major Arcana and represent figures with a specific name. They are the cards of the Great Energies, "telling who we are, who we will become" while the Minor Arcana indicate what we do and are divided into Swords, Wands, Cups and Denaras, respectively associated with the elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Creating the recipes is Courtney, who grew up in Texas, lived for years in New York and Los Angeles and is a great traveller, mixing different influences in her dishes.
To each element, its recipe
Let us start with the Minor Arcana and the Seed of Swords, specifically with the Ace of Swords: "Ideas that have been floating around for years finally come to fruition. The truth becomes clear, it is time to accept new information". Associated recipe, chicken broth flavoured with onion and garlic, magical elements of the card. Among the fire recipes, the Page of Wands proposes a banana and vanilla pudding, to explore the unknown, "allow yourself to go wrong in something, nothing reveals talents better than failure and the need to improvise". In the realm of Water, the Ace of Cups tells us to make room for our memories: go for the shellfish soup, then, considering that the carapaces "can give flavour and aroma even once the meat has been eaten". The Denara's is the earthly world and gastronomically speaking it is a vegetarian's paradise, all based on vegetables and grains. There is also an Italian-inspired recipe, bagna cauda, accompanied with bread croutons and crudités, flavoured with salted lemons. It is the Five of Denara that suggests the dish, but above all invites us to focus our energies on something positive, instead of spending them thinking about what we lack.
The Major Arcana and dishes to stimulate change
Time to move on to the Major Arcana, each associated with a magical ingredient. In this second part of the book there are several cocktails, such as the Pomegranate Julep associated with the High Priestess, "who welcomes the teachings of the Universe". A magical element - or rather, magick with a k, as the authors write, a common way of distinguishing magic such as this, based on the power of the mind, from more banal tricks - the pomegranate, symbol of abundance. For dessert, on the other hand, the menu of The Lovers offers panna cotta with vanilla, a sweet spice that can point anyone in the right direction, whether it is a romantic relationship that needs protecting or a friendship that needs fortifying. Impossible not to mention The Hanged Man, one of the most popular cards: to look at it is almost frightening, but it is actually one of the most positive cards there is, because it encourages change, to look at things from a different perspective. Not surprisingly, mushrooms are the stars of the recipe, a versatile food that comes in many varieties. Here they are proposed roasted, with accompanying rye panzanella.
Divine Your Dinner, Courtney McBroom & Melinda Lee Holm – Published by Potter Publishers – 191 pages - $22