The bowl of plenty

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Once Zeus snapped off one of Amaltheia’s horns and the broken bit turned into cornucopia which is a powerful symbol that has graced coat of arms, statues of royalty and state and national flags

Zubin D’Souza

You know all those romantic stories you hear from the wonderful chefs on TV; how they were drawn to the culinary world by their passion, by their creativity?

Well, that sure did not happen with me!

What I wanted was a job that ensured that I had three square meals a day and did not have to fear going to bed on an empty stomach again! The only reason that I was going to skip dinner would be that I had already eaten five full meals before supper time!

While growing up, we always knew that there wasn’t going to be enough food in the house for all of us. So we took turns sacrificing our meals albeit surreptitiously. It was never brought to the notice of our parents directly.

Many a times when I could hear the growls from my stomach; a clarion call for more food and I used to wish that I had something that would ensure that there was a never-ending supply of food in my house.

I used to be fascinated as a child about the Biblical story of the Miracle on the Mount when Jesus managed to multiply five loaves and two fish and feed a multitude of five thousand men and that is apart from the women and children gathered there.

The scraps left after the last of the crowds were completely satiated were gathered in twelve huge baskets.

Then Jesus went and repeated this miracle a second time. There he fed four thousand people after multiplying seven loaves and two fish. Again twelve baskets of leftovers were

collected.

I was mystified! I wanted this to happen in my home every night!

It was much later that I realised that the Sermon on the Mount was the more important message and not the feasting.

That did not deter me from trying to locate something that would work in a similar vein.

And this wasn’t the only miracle in the bible where food was multiplied. Elijah in the Old Testament managed to convert a poor old widow’s jars into endless supplies of flour

and oil.

And another Old Testament prophet managed to multiply the olive oil in a widow’s jar and save her sons from slavery.

My original plan was to get myself access to my very own prophet; unfortunately they are hard to come by.

Luckily for me, civilisations across the world all had a story of a device that was the source of an unending supply of food. Maybe I could tap into one of those.

When Zeus the Greek God was hidden from his father Cronus who was intent on eating the young infant, the little boy was kept in a cave on the island of Crete.

His nourishment came through the divine goat Amaltheia who fed the child with her milk. Once Zeus accidentally snapped off one of Amaltheia’s horns and the broken bit turned into ‘cornucopia’ or the divine horn of plenty that had an unlimited supply of nourishment.

The cornucopia is such a powerful symbol in the world today that it has graced coat of arms, statues of royalty and state and

national flags.

Although it disappeared from Greek history, it made an appearance in Welsh stories as the ‘Horn of Bran Galed’ that gave an incessant supply of drinks.

In the Indian epic Mahabharata, the Pandavas who happen to be the protagonists in the tale are in possession of ‘Akshay Patra’. It was gifted to the eldest brother Yudhishthira by the sun god Surya. It held an inexhaustible supply of food that ended only when Draupadi, the wife to the Pandavas had finished her meal. The bowl was replenished with food back again the next day.

The quest for the ‘Holy Grail’ was the enduring theme for many an Arthurian legend. It was sought out because it had an abundant supply of eternal youth, happiness and of course food.

The legends ended without it being found so it is still out there somewhere!

This is much unlike the ‘Sampo’ which in Finnish mythology was created by Ilmarinen, brought untold riches and abundant food but was lost at sea during a battle.

Celtic mythology speaks about the ‘crock and dish of Rhygenyyd Ysgolhaig’ that could present upon it any food that was wished for.

British mythology also speaks of the ‘Hamper of Gwyddno Garanhir’ that could multiply any food placed in it a hundred times.

I have looked around for a while now and have realised that my quest for these mystical objects is nowhere near being completed. Apart from that I have realised that there is no holy man or god willing to bequeath me with one of these celestial marvels.

So I did the one thing that was sure to assure me of an unlimited supply of food.

I became a chef!