Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Musings on Muses

I think every witch, and indeed, every Pagan, has their muses.  I think that often they take the form of the Gods or Goddesses that we revere--from Cerridwen and Morrighan and Oona of the Fey to Astarte to Isis, Ra, and Osiris.  Maybe it's not even restricted to Pagans; I mean, in today's time, isn't Jesus first and foremost an avatar of what we aspire to be like?

For myself, I do feel connected to the Celtic and British deities, especially the Fey, but then I think I have some other, less deified, muses that might be specific to the kitchen witch.  My first muse, even before I found the Pagan path, had to be Betty Crocker.  When I was first learning to be on my own and finding my place in the kitchen, my most prized possession was an antique copy of Betty Crocker's Cookbook* that my mother gave me, unique among all my cookbooks in that it taught the basics I needed--how to boil eggs, how long to cook things like steaks, roasts, and turkeys, and so much more.  And so I accepted Betty as my muse, with the full understanding that she never actually walked the earth, and is merely a fictional character, created by the imaginations of people to be the perfect 'everywoman' who can unfailingly and unflappably work magic in the kitchen day after day.

Now that I have mastered all the basics, I may have at least partly outgrown what Betty Crocker and her sacred texts can show me (though I still consult the old red Cookbook from time to time).  The next leg of my journey, and my next set of muses, come from the pages of Food Network Magazine.**  I consistently find the recipes in this magazine, especially the ones from the "Weeknight Cooking" section, to be some of the most well-balanced and delicious dishes I have ever experienced, let alone created.  Just tonight, I made some Turkey-Pepperoni Burgers that my sweetie told me had the best flavor of anything she had ever eaten. And while the muses of Food Network differ from Lady Crocker in that they are based on real people, who live and breathe even today, they are also the same in that the images we receive are edited and shaped to transform these everyday people--from Ina Garten, Giada DeLaurentis, and Paula Deen to Bobby Flay and Alton Brown--into unfailing, unflappable avatars of what all of us kitchen folk aspire to be.

I have to wonder, then... could these fictional, or semi-fictional, characters be a type of modern-day mythology, not so far removed from those ancient stories of gods and goddesses, larger-than-life heroes or heroines meant to inspire us to greater things?

*Copyright date 1969!  Not that long before I was born, but still clearly from an earlier, simpler time.

**I am not affiliated with Food Network in any way, and sadly am receiving no compensation for my endorsement.

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