One thing you probably don’t know about me is that I am very interested in the occult. I’ve been this way since I was a kid. I would have been Goth, if I was capable of taking myself more seriously (and was willing to give up wearing navy). Instead, I was a preppy and fairly cheerful kid, drawn to the dark, supernatural, and mysterious. I would read books on vampires, freemasons, and the history of witchcraft. I liked the idea of secret rituals and magical powers. As adolescents we’re all a little power hungry.
I was particularly interested in witches, or in the idea of witches. I dressed as a witch to attend a cub scout Halloween party in the 80’s (it was an unusual choice in that crowd). The witches in the Wizard of Oz both terrified and delighted me. In middle school, The Crucible had a big impact on me and the idea of witch hunts was potent enough to ignite my developing sense of injustice and feminism. I was married in Salem, Massachusetts, under a very old tree, in solidarity with my brothers and sisters who were given such grief there (you’ve come a long way, Massachusetts!). Bryan recently told me he could imagine me having powers, which satisfied (witch satisfied?).
Now it will not come as any surprise to you that I am enjoying this season of American Horror Story: Coven. I liked the first two seasons of American Horror Story, but I did not love them. I love Coven, in part because it manages to combine so many things that I love: witches, voodoo, Stevie Nicks, New Orleans, Patti Lupone as an evangelical Christian, Jessica Lange as anything, and all of this vengeance fantasy shit that is hard to resist. It is also beautiful to look at, I want to live in Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies—let’s be honest, I also want to attend school there.
All of that to say, I have been thinking about witches a little more than usual. It is easy to conjure their image in the kitchen. We stand before our cauldrons and practice our particular forms of alchemy—turning ingredients into something new, different, potent. Cooking does make you feel powerful, that is a lot of what I like about it. We’re all magical witches in the kitchen.
When shall we three meet again? Probs next week when I share another recipe.
I added red pepper flakes to the garlic and sage, but otherwise followed this as written. You need to add a fair amount of salt, and buy good bread. Bread does not get better when it gets wet.
Save-Your-Life Garlic Soup (from One Good Dish  by David Tanis)
- 2 heads garlic, separated into cloves and peeled
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 12 sage leaves
- Salt and Pepper
- 6 cups water
- 4 eggs
- 4 slices crusty bread, sliced 1-inch thick, lightly toasted
- chopped parsley, chives or scallions
Slice or roughly chop the garlic cloves (sliced is prettier, but takes longer). Warm the oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and sage and let it sizzle bit without browning, about 2 minutes. Season with about 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Add the water and bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to a brisk simmer. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Ladle about an inch of the soup into a skillet and bring to a brisk simmer over medium heat. Carefully crack the eggs into the pan and poach for about 3 minutes.
To serve, place a slice of toast in each soup bowl and top with a poached egg. Ladle the soup over the eggs and sprinkle with a little parsley.