Why the House Creaks and Groans

(After the Brazilian tale “Why the Sea Moans”)

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A girl was born into a large house that sat on a high hill. It had once been a beautiful mansion, but her family’s wealth had been lost long ago and now the house was decaying, and most of the wings were boarded up, and the girl and her mother and father lived in the heart of the house, at its center. They lit only a single fire and cooked and slept in the same room. The girl’s parents, ashamed of how far they had fallen, rarely left the house and the little girl wasn’t allowed to leave either. She was very lonely, but sometimes at night, or when the wind was strong and the house creaked and groaned she swore it was saying her name.

One day there was a terrible storm and the wind howled and moaned through the house and the girl’s parents busied themselves sealing broken windows and nailing old doors closed, and the girl, alone with the fire, heard the house say her name more clearly and distinctly than ever. She gazed into the fire intently and in the flames saw a kind and beautiful face. “

In the garden,” the flames whispered, “when the storm is over, you will find a tree that grows rubies instead of fruit and your family will be saved.”

The girl was overjoyed and thanked the face in the flames over and over. The face said it was the spirit of the house, and was happy to help.

“You must promise that when your family’s wealthy is restored you will repair me and return me to my former glory,” and the girl promised.

Soon her parents returned and she told them there was a tree in the garden that grew rubies instead of fruit and that it would save them. Her parents laughed, but after the storm they went into the garden and there was the tree, shining with red light.

They picked the rubies and took them into town and traded them for fine clothes and delicious food, and were merry. Then the girl said, “come mother and father, we must return home and repair the house, for I have promised.”

But they said, “why repair what has been so badly damaged when we can buy a new house?” So they found a new home closer to town, and the girl had lovely clothes and a room of her own, and soon she forgot about her former home.

The old house sat alone on its hill, falling every day into greater disrepair. It creaked and groaned, but no one was left to hear it.

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Needing and Craving

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Image by Instagram user illustrationsbymajali

Fairy tales are full of irrational desires from Rapunzel’s mother longing for a taste of the witch’s garden, to Cinderella’s yearning to attend the ball. A number of scientific studies on cravings over the last ten years have reveal a variety of causes for desiring. I tend to think of craving as being primarily related to food, but I often crave other things: companionship, affection, change of scenery.

Sometimes yearning seems like and expression of boredom or self-sabotage, these longings are easier to resist. Other times, my desires feel more akin to need, as if my body is communicating some sort of deficiency. These cravings are the most satisfying to give into, although I have no way of knowing whether how I perceive a particular desire has any correlation to necessity.

There is a theory that the foods we crave are actually the ones we are intolerant to. If our body finds a food difficult to break down, it floods our brain with pleasure hormones to counteract the stress, which makes us want them again.

But a competing theory supposes that our desire for a specific food is biologically, that our desires are predisposed and reinforced by early life eating habits.

Some evidence supports need as a cause of cravings, but even when there is a connection between need and want, the longings are usually distortions of deprivations: wanting sweets when blood sugar is low, craving french fries when the body needs salt.

Fairy tales offer unexpected outcomes to succumbing to longing. The princess desperate for her golden ball ends up with a handsome prince while the mother who longs for a child black as ebony, white as snow and red as blood ends up dead.

I often associate craving with guilt. I feel bad for wanting, especially when I want what is bad for me. Since discovering I have a wheat intolerance, I crave pizza and sandwiches more than ever. I feel bad for wanting what I know will make me sick. I get annoyed with my body for not “breaking the cycle.” It’s been a year and I still have a hard time watching people eat muffins.

I remember before my own IBS symptoms began (about 1 ½ years ago) I had very little sympathy for people—including my own sister—whose bodies reacted badly to certain foods. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t just sit with me while I ate a big salad or a greasy burger, consuming her bland dinner of chicken and rice. I didn’t understand that her intolerance of those foods didn’t translate to reduced desires for them, that want and need often conflict.

 

Fairy Land Through the Eyes of Maxfield Parrish

The terms Fairy Tale and Fantasy are often used interchangeably, but they are not synonymous. Fantasy is a place, a specific other world and the stories that belong to it. Oz is a fantasy. Fairy tale is a quality, a mood. Fairy tales exist in outside of time and place—which is part of the reason they translate so well across continents and centuries. The best illustrators of fairy tales understand this and, instead of creating a specific, detailed landscape they impart a mystical quality to familiar spaces. They are intimate and dreamlike.

Who are your favorite fairy tale illustrators?

A Very Sensitive Princess

549406190_f5f07eb6d2_oThe fairy tale, The Princess and the Pea is a story about sensitivity. A prince is trying to find a wife, but he wants to be sure she’s a real princess. He tests a potential match by hiding a single dried pea under a pile of twenty mattresses and twenty blankets on top of which the princess sleeps. In the morning the princess says she’s black and blue all over. The prince, taking her delicacy as proof of her royalty, asks her to marry him. It’s an encouraging tale for the perceptive and easily affected. Receptiveness often feels more like a curse than a gift. But like most of the traits that define us, being sensitive has its upsides. A finicky stomach is often accompanied by a love of flavor. Moody temperaments frequently pair with deep empathy. Obsessive tendencies often accompany exceptional insight and analysis.

I started cooking out of necessity when my father was sick and mother was working full time and going to night school. I became quite the foodie. Then I developed IBS and had to rethink my entire approach to nutrition and culinary enjoyment.

Princess and Pea is a refuge for sensitivity. It is a place where I plan to explore my passions: fairy tales, food, and beauty. Most of my recipes are gluten free, many are low FODMAP, some are vegan. Welcome!