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"Reclaiming the magical herstory of food" - a website

This is a lady called Danielle Prohom Olson who lives in the town of Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. She has a very mixed European background and introduces her website thus:

"Weaving together ancestral food wisdom, herbal folklore, and goddess traditions, Gather Victoria takes you on a culinary pilgrimage through the seasonal celebrations of the wheel of the year. From spring, summer, and autumn to winter, I share my favorite ways to “wildcraft” the earth’s most ancient plants into delicious recipes, dishes, and feasts that deepen our spiritual connection to nature and the land we live on."

So as a follow-up to my religion in the food curriculum post I thought I would tackle this, the next food blog on my list. And yes it's full of all those earth mother goddess, pagan kind of things but it looks gorgeous and has a lot of really interesting reading - mostly historical, folkloric or environmental introducing each recipe. Somewhat over the top on the magic goddess side but, yes, interesting. The very long piece with the title I have used as my title, and which features in her menu bar, for example is indeed what it says - an account of the unrecognised role that women have played in the history of food, or as she puts it:

"what’s been rendered invisible is the story of our earliest relationship with food and the natural world – the vast swath of “herstory” which kindled our transformation into humans. And in this time of ecological and food crisis, I believe reclaiming the herstory of food can go a long ways towards healing our fractured relationship with the planet, with food – and maybe even our bodies as well."

It's all terribly earnest, but there are little bits of truth or information which most females would, at least partially, agree with, and also learn from. You don't have to agree with any of it - for it is indeed a bit over the top earthy, and almost pagan:

"I’m currently writing a cookbook celebrating The Herstory of Food.  Taking a culinary pilgrimage into the oldest cuisine in the world, it weaves goddess lore and food magic together into enchanting recipes and menus for each season.

And yet in between all the faintly mumbo-jumbo you learn something.

Foraging for food is another major aspect of the website, and therefore not always relatable to Australia at least, because we don't have the same wild foods. Often though she will give alternatives that are less difficult to source. So a few examples just to demonstrate what you might find if you have a look. I should also note that the majority of the recipes are baked cakes and suchlike.

Summer solstice black balsam This is the most recent post and as such featured on the Home page. I'm always somewhat frustrated looking at Northern Hemisphere websites because of the disconnect in the seasons. According to my weather widget we seem to have had our longest night last night, so we are at the winter solstice. It's cold, cold, cold, so I am not at all in the mood to celebrate

"the time of the year when the sun’s powers are at their height and plants are brimming with life-force energy.

Her recipe is her version of a Latvian herbal restorative drink, and so the text preceding the recipe is largely about Latvian customs (Latvian is one of her ancestral makeup) and also the plants that may or may not be in the drink - linden and ox-eye daisy. Sort of interesting if you're into that sort of thing and the pictures are rather gorgeous - but very earth mother.

I picked this one because of the truly gorgeous picture and how well it reflects the whole tone of the website.

But what is Camossung I thought? Initially I thought it must be one of those pagan festivals that celebrate some nature connected thing. But no, apparently Camossung is part of a myth of the local Indians of Vancouver Island:

"There is an ancient Songhees story of a young girl named Camossung turned to stone by Hayis the transformer. Camossung is believed to have spirit powers and is associated with protecting the local food resources (Coho Salmon, Herring, Oysters and Ducks) of the Songhees people."

Which leads into a lengthy piece about the history of the native Indians and colonisation, particularly as it has affected foraging habits - currently apparently forbidden by law, and the environment, including potential solutions with community gardens and wild fruits and plants planted in parks for people to harvest for free. The cakes by the way are sponge cakes with berries of your own choosing. We can't get salal berries here.

Wild mustard tart with potato and gruyère cheese "Drizzled with coastal mugwort honey"

Although, of course, any honey will do. It's a pretty simple tart made with puff pastry and potatoes mixed with cheese, those mustard greens, cheese, milk and thyme. The introduction to the recipe gives a a lot of information about mustard greens, which you may be able to find in Indian stores here, or if you check all of the pictures that she provides, together with other identifying inforation you might be able to find some along the side of your road.

Another tempting photograph, a simple recipe and more information about that dratted summer solstice and its customs in the Baltic. Those customs being mostly centred on food. There's also a little bit about St. John's Wort, which can provide the yellow colouring of the icing, - or you can just use yellow colouring from the supermarket. The cookies are herby - lavender, rosemary, thyme and sage - all strongish, and decorated with flowers like marigolds.

I should have looked harder for winter recipes - and I just did but enough's enough really.

So one last recipe because it was interesting:

Chunky rose petal pesto - basically a normal basil pesto but with a bit less basil and a fair number of rose petals. The nuts are walnuts and the whole is not a smoothish purée but it's kept chunky. Well you can have rose harissa so why not rose pesto?

Different I think you would agree, and not really up my street, but nevertheless occasionally interesting, especially if you are into food traditions. And as I said in my religion post, religion and food are fundamentally inseparable. And this website is sort of religious - depending on how you define religious. Spiritual anyway.


In complete contrast, last night's 'guru' dinner was very beige. Both in appearance and in taste really. It was poached chicken wiht a lemon sauce from Robert Carrier. Now poaching anything always results in a delicate taste, and I guess chicken doesn't have much taste either. Now the chicken was slightly undercooked - due to it being in too big a pot I think. The sauce was pretty nice, but I don't think lemony enough. The greens and the rice were nice though. I think I have finally mastered cooking rice in the rice cooker. Soak your rice and then rinse slightly before putting it in the cooker.

I'm sure if Robert Carrier had cooked this it would have been very, very delicious. My failure I think. Still I have some leftover chicken to do something exciting with later in the week.

But yes, beige.

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