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Food As Nourishment

“Let food by thy medicine...” Hippocrates said. The two main words in this quote are food, which is always a good thing, and medicine, which has some negative connotations. Next I researched these two words by looking them up in the dictionary. The word ‘food’, has five different definitions, all of them referring to food as nourishment or a sustenance. It makes sense, since listing all of the different types of food would make for one very long definition. Food is a basic concept. Medicine however, is broader in its terms and associations. Medicine can be a substance, an art, a science, or a profession. The very last definition though, was the one that spoke to me the most. It was the most interesting. The definition was specific to the Northern American Indians, and the dictionary said that medicine is an “object or practice regarded as having magical powers.” So looking back to Hippocrates quote, “Let food be thy medicine…” It has much more meaning now. Let food be this object of magic.

Magic is something that goes against our father of modern medicine, Hippocrates. Since the reason why he came up with this brilliant statement was because he detested the long withstanding belief that the gods were the ones that brought and took away illnesses. Medicine and religion were thought to be along the same lines, and Hippocrates wanted medicine to be something more tangible and reliable. Magic is neither of those things. So when I say that I think food should be an object of magic. I do not mean the literal sense of casting spells on our food. That would make for a lot of time to be wasted with incantations on every single platter of food. What I mean the romanticized and fanciful version of magic; where magic is wonder and beauty, when it is good at least.

That’s the question though. Is my magic good? Or is it evil? Food can make you feel better, happier, stronger, and healthier. It can also give you cramps, heartburn, disease, and even death. This is why I study culinary, because I want my food to be good magic. I do not want people to taste my food and feel like they are being fed medicine, but I do want my food to act like a medicine. I want my food to make people feel better. I want people to remember and love the food that I create. While I do realize at the same time that this dream of appeasing everyone is probably not going to be successful. Everyone is different and everyone has a different taste palate. I just want my food to be something that everyone can enjoy at least a little. I would assume this applies to every chef or cook. It is a basic desire to want to be good at your hobby or passion. I hope to never have my good magic turn into bad. I hope to never get anyone sick or killed by my food. I want my food to be good magic.

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