Our chef is a sorceress with her box of spices for a staff. A tiara of cumin seeds jewel her brow and her ears sparkle with opal cardamom chandeliers. She twists a single fiber of tamarind into her thinning braid; an amulet of carved cinnamon rests above her navel, hanging down her neck on a thread of peppercorns.
Within this kitchen, she is in her element. Matchboxes have long been discarded: the hearth is licked to life by flames dancing out of her nostrils. Royal tangerine. The culinary dragon begins her dance.
Cast iron wok hisses from the assault of a sesame seed rain, perforating the puddle of sunflower oil. Music. The tempo has been set. A cloud of wheat flour rises up to kiss the ceiling, cloves of garlic prance across the wooden counters and sacrifice their pungent lives by cannonballing into the wok of tempered death. The enchantress has stalks of coriander swaying like bohemian wanderers. Basil leaves touch tips and circle in rhythmic leaps around a mountain of crushed fenugreek. Spring onions clutch at their green ponytails and rip them off from their scalps in a fit of robotic madness. It’s the trance of the herbs.
Lemon grass, venison, pickled carrots, hard boiled eggs. Soy sauce oozes brown over noodle strands, golden quiches swivel and cavort down the oven’s ramp. She wipes her hands on an apron of beige dough. Ice cream dotted with smudges of peaches and cream spoon themselves into gyrating crystal bowls, spinning wildly with near transparent spoons.
The table has been set, the forks laid out, plates polished enough to reflect bones. Our sorceress is satisfied.
Quietly, she pads back into her war zone and plucks a ladle of the wall. Culinary dragon then folds herself – amulets, apron and all – into the well of the ladle and curls up for a snooze. It’s been a long day.