Do you walk under a ladder if it’s in your path, or do you hesitate and walk around it? Throw a coin in a fountain from time to time? Notice uneasily when the number 13 pops up in your life? Are you that person at dinner parties who insists on maintaining eye contact during the toast – for fear of bad luck? Ugh, that person.
I doubt any of us would describe ourselves as superstitious. Superstitions feel silly if you examine them too closely. Almost childish. Like believing that a birthday wish from blowing out candles will come true. But, you’ll find my knuckles wrapping on wood in a moment of insecurity, or mindlessly flicking salt over my shoulder if it’s spilled. It’s a thoughtless ritual, but a ritual just the same.
Magic is ritual with an intended outcome. This is the simplest way I could put it. It’s a little too simple, in fact, but, after doing the research for this podcast, I decided to skip the semantics of neoplatonism vs pagan mysticism vs Zorastrianism and kept things a bit simpler. This is a food podcast, after all.
On today’s episode of A Time And A Plate, we find ourselves baking a witch’s cake on the eve of the Salem Witch Trials. We journey to the 17th century American frontier, on the cresting wave of early Protestantism, and the pervasive tide of English folk magic pulling us back. Magic, was alive and real in the Early Modern Era, and magical food could be used to heal, protect, or kill.
Later on in the episode, I’m joined by Danielle Bell, the co-founder of de Porres Dinner Series, to talk about her experience with Hoo Doo cooking from her series with Lucky Peach Magazine. She’s sharing her delicious, and possibly magical, Honey Pot Rice Pudding with us, and trust me – you’ll find yourself going for seconds. Enjoy!
In hoodoo, when one wishes to sweeten a situation—be it with a love interest, a judge, or a landlady—one can begin by adding honey to a jar. The “honey jar,” as it is called, will also contain a petition paper. In this note the writer declares their intentions and desires. Herbs, roots, oils, hair, bodily fluids, and ashes can find their way into the honey jar. As can strips of the target’s clothing and other personal items. Once filled, spells are cast and candles are lit, all with the purpose of the honey jar doing its work.
This pudding was conceived with romance in mind. Jasmine rice was chosen specifically for its aromatic qualities. I used vanilla and cardamom, both believed to stoke passion and lust; cinnamon, which is said to attract love; and nutmeg, for the luck every love affair needs.
Makes 8 servings
1 1/4 Tablespoon salt
1 3/4 Cup water
1 Cup jasmine rice
1 1/4 Cup whole milk
1 1/4 Cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods
1/2 vanilla bean, cut open
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 Cup honey
3 large eggs
3/4 Cup raisins
Butter for greasing
Heat the oven to 325°F.
Add the salt and water to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add the rice, cover, and cook until al dente, about nine minutes. Strain the rice and reserve.
In another pot, bring the milk and heavy cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla bean, cloves, salt, and nutmeg. Cover and let steep for an hour. Warm the milk and cream mixture and add the honey, stirring until it dissolves.
Whisk the eggs together in a medium-sized bowl, then add the rice, the milk mixture, and the raisins.
Grease a 9″ baking dish with a thick layer of the butter. Pour the rice mixture into the pan and bake uncovered for an hour, until it’s a rich golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.