I practice cooking magic. Since the first reaction I get from pagans when I say this is, "what the hell is cooking magic," I should explain that cooking is a hobby that helps me to meditate. When I'm working my way through the preparation of a tasty dish, I can cut myself off from the world around me and immerse myself in the immediacy of the moment – in other words, I can achieve gnosis through cooking. In the same manner that a musician finds gnosis when he's on stage in the middle of a rockin' set, or a writer makes his magic as he produces a story that comes from his soul, so I consider cooking to be my magic.
On Friday May 18th (a date that used to have personal significance in a previous life), I came across an article on jazz musician Miles Davis and his cooking. It seems Davis wasn't only a musician, though he will forever be remembered for his legendary contributions to jazz – he was also a decent cook. The article described how the author took it upon himself to re-create Davis' chili recipe – and how, to him and him only, the results were magical. He even wrote, "And for a second, while I extemporized my way through the cooking, I swear Miles entered the room." This truly is cooking magic…and I knew that I had to make this recipe myself.
First came the ingredients. Yesterday (Saturday morning) I wrote on Facebook, "So…last night I came across that recipe for Miles Davis' chile recipe. It requires a three hour slow simmer, and I thought it would be good to make it today when I'm home on the pager. So I figured I'd go out to get the ingredients at Price Chopper, because they're open 24 hours and I wouldn't have to go today, when I'm on the work pager (again). And I decided to walk to Price Chopper because it was a nice clear night. But…as I was getting my shoes on, I got a call from work. I had to do an emergency after hours shipment from our supplier in Louisville, Kentucky. Normally this would take about five minutes, but due to a clerical error it ended up taking over an hour. So finally, it finished up and I had the chance to go out and do my food shopping. At 12:30 AM. I decided to still walk to Price Chopper because I was wide awake from the work call, and ended up going to bed at 2:30 AM." Thanks to the recipe, I got to have fun playing a stereotypical role – walking the streets alone, dressed in black. That was ridiculous, and it was fun.
And so, while calls came in on the pager, I set about making Miles Davis' chili. A lowly beginner attempting to emulate Miles Davis? I was certain I wasn't the first. On my Cast Iron Cooking Facebook group, I blogged my experience.
The chili was delicious – but I'd cooked it more for the experience of making Miles' chili rather than for the chili itself. It was a pleasurable experience – and I realized I'd achieved gnosis.
And what magical results did I see from this? For one, relaxation and achievement. I was on call with the work pager yesterday, and Saturdays on the pager are usually hell – idiots from all over the country call me with equipment emergencies that have to be solved NOW, even though they're on a skeleton crew with weekend staff who know nothing. Yesterday turned out to be one of the quietest and most relaxing days on the pager that I've had in a long time…so much so, I was able to finish a lot of housework, including three weeks' worth of laundry. That in itself is magical.
Update, 8:00 PM the same day: If "magic" is an explanation for the strange little coincidences that happen in your waking life, then yesterday's cooking magic definitely produced some magic today. Pager is done, it was an absolutely gorgeous day out, I didn't have a lot of money (though I had some), and I had all day to myself. The little voice in my head just said to take a long walk to the Wayside Inn, exactly like when we were kids. Who was I to say no to the little voice in my head?
So I was off, spending the better part of the day walking across town, treading the same paths my brothers and I had wandered a good thirty years ago. And the little magical coincidences started occurring, finally culminating in my meeting not one, but two lovely ladies, but also discovering yet another addition to my cast iron collection – at a substantial discount. I celebrated my new find by making a gin slinger (sugar, lemon juice, lemon peel, boiling water) in my Chaos logo drinking glass. Not a bad way to end a day of magic.