Edible Spell For a New Mood Stew by Jesse Darling

Maybe you don’t like the cold. Can’t keep it out the way you once could. Maybe it’s warmer than it should be this time of year. Maybe your body hurts or maybe you miss someone. Maybe you’re angry for several good reasons. Maybe you’ve been putting a lot of weird stuff inside your body and it’s time to give it something real. Up from the ground through your tools and your fingers, down again into the long wet tract/ the duct and gullet. Your body will help you know what it needs.

Get everyone else out of the kitchen. Put some music on if you want to, maybe the radio, or something you listened to when you were younger and wanted to feel lonely and brave as hell. Sharpen up a knife, or else hold that steel for a good moment until hand and knife know each other’s weight and intention. With a blade you can make something new.

Cut the onions first and make sure there’s plenty. You want to cry and cry it. The body doesn’t discern the difference between this and any other release, so take it where you can get it: this is your hurt, your only, your low down holy, your own. Put a big dab of fat in the pot and grease all that sorrow around. Pour those onions in and let em sing in the sizzle, break em down slow, inhale and watch the tears turn to sweet. Go slow, go slow.

Get to the roots now. Chop with intention and channel your rage each time the knife comes down.You have your little pieces of earth: throw them into the pot and know you are working with the very world. Whatever you’re drinking, pour some in. Vessel, a crucible. Be grateful for what there is.

Maybe you need something green for when the stew-mud starts to congeal at the pot bottom and gusset. Spinach, herbs, collards, cilantro, a confetti. Spice it right, it’s an incantation: turmeric, garlic, paprika, ginger, fenugreek, cumin, rosemary, thyme. If you don’t know how, use your nose and your tongue. Lemon peel, parsley, sesame, sumac, cardamom, saffron, cinnamon, wine.

Some meat if you want it (be grateful), minced or diced up fine. Barley grain or soup noodles or dumplings or none. Rice on the side or some bread for the plate. Some sugar, some coconut, bone marrow, pulses. Salt, sour, hot.

Stay with what you’re making and attend to what it needs. What it needs is what you need, and this need is so wide open right now, so raw wild and right and common, that if you listen close it will become imperative to feed it. Let this hunger beat inside the body. Heart in your stomach, hole of your throat. It is a seduction, a dissolution, a long, hot communion. More fluid, more flavour, more fat. A little of this and a little of that.

Listen close. You’ll know what to do.

When it’s time, you can cover the stew and let it alone in the heat with the sum of its parts. But stay close by, and don’t turn off. Pull up a chair. Be grateful, and wait. You can start letting other thoughts and people and ghosts and demons back in now. Gifts bestow the giver. What’s in the stew is what everybody needs most and as you get it down inside you it will hug your guts and fill up what’s empty.

Tomorrow, another day.


This was originally published in the Ignota Diary 2021. The Ignota Diary 2023 is now shipping.