MY FASCINATING CULINARY ODYSSEY
On this journey with raw food and world mythology, each recipe to me was like the composition of a new song; a spark of melodic inspiration, the orchestration of ingredients, the production process followed by the sampling and seduction of the senses. For me it was a fascinating mythological odyssey I undertook in researching deities.
When a deity was already connected with a particular food as Apollo is with beetroot or Ashnan with barley grains, I could then take that food as the hub and spin outwards from there, weaving in other ingredients, usually derived from the deity’s cultural heritage: Aesclipius’ Medicinal Mustards is not only comprised of mustard leaves, but also liquorice which is another indigenous Mediterranean ingredient.
Another factor that played a part in my creation of these foods and drinks are the very attributes of the divinities. Cyprus is not known for growing cacao yet its properties of yielding pleasure and sensuality make it a prime candidate for an Aphrodite dessert. By taking a small, tasty advantage of how fortunate we are to have access to cross-cultural foods ancient peoples did not, these recipes have been enriched with a modern flair.
Through the aeons, gods were poured into one culture before undulating into another, yet their essence tasted largely the same. Probably the most prominent is the way the Romans were inspired by the Greeks; Venus was blown to life by Aphrodite but even then Aphrodite’s cult was influenced by nearby Sumeria and its love goddess, Astarte. In Soar on Raw! I have given each deity the independence I feel they deserve as over the eras, each god and goddess has taken on fully- fledged idendeities with their own rituals, celebrations and festivals.
The resonances ringing among deities were striking, no matter how disparate they were geographically. Take Vauvo from Greek Mythology and Uzumi from Japanese legend. Both of these lesser goddesses of mirth and revelry exposed their genitals whilst giving comical dances. In doing so, they were instrumental in cheering up the greater, grieving goddesses Demeter and Amaterasu who in turn restored fertility to the barren Earth. Or how about the multi-breasted Andean Mama Allpa finding her uncanny counterpart in the equally many-mammaried Artemis of Ephesus, half a world away.
It is important to understand that a great deal of these divinities were multi-faceted with darker aspects that are often times glossed over. Artemis was not only a chaste lover of the woods but a merciless killer with her swift arrow and she could be wildly vengeful. I chose the definition necessary to complement the recipes.
To pay tribute to my heritage, there is a strong leaning towards the Mediterranean deities – and not least because Olympus is aflourish with raw food goodness as opposed to those Norse gods in colder Valhalla that have to make do with far less fresh fruit and vegetables. Neither were these gods exclusively raw either: Thor would tuck into raw meat even though he knew that knocking back a green juice kept his lightning shards razor bright.
In all my research, I came across deities of all curiosities and dispositions but nowhere did I encounter any god or goddess of processed food. If you’ve ever had techno-chicken fried in plastic sauces you will know how your height shrinks by a third and your circumference expands by your height squared and your brain shrivels to a quarter of its radius and you stay that way for a good 12 hours. Goddess curse, they say.