Aegletia Food Guidelines
Aegletia begins October 1st, and ends October 9th
A couple years back, I wrote a short ritual for the Aegletia and felt that it was time to add a little bit to it. One thing I’ve always wanted to have as part of our tradition is some shared foodways. Given that we have many different backgrounds, that’s not easy, but the concepts surrounding the Aegletia give us the opportunity to develop some common culinary practices. I’ve outlined some ideas and will be testing them out this year, but I would also like to invite all of you to share your thoughts and maybe even recipes. The great thing about this is that you can do as much or as little of this as you want to and you should be able to accommodate these ideas, even with a tight budget. I’ve been there myself and I tried to write these guidelines with a mind toward compassion for those of us with smaller budgets or who may not have access to a wide variety of ingredients. First, I offer a blessing for food, which I like to say before a sacred meal. There’s a long-ish list of blessings, but you are meant to choose from those that are relevant to your particular meal. If you don’t have beans, for example, you can leave out the one to Kyamites.
Blessing the Meal
We give thanks to you, Immortal Gods, for the bounty before us.
May you bless our meal, so that from it we might gain strength, health, and long life.
We give thanks to Hestia, for blessing our hearth.
We give thanks to Zeus, for bringing the rain.
We give thanks to Apollon, for healthy crops and herds.
We give thanks to Dionysos, for the gift of wine.
We give thanks to Demeter, for the fruits of the Earth.
We give thanks to Athene, for the gift of olives.
We give thanks to Triptolemos, who taught us to farm.
We give thanks to Aristaeos, who taught us to make cheese, keep bees, and tend animals.
We give thanks to Kyamites, who taught us to grow beans.
Guidelines for eating during the Aegletia
First Night: Purification
Drink nothing but water today and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Meals should be high in fiber and plant-based. If you have any sensitivities, such as lactose intolerance, avoid those foods especially today. Avoid added and refined sugars, where possible, as well as highly processed foods.
There are a lot of “detox” foods and drinks floating around, but the science behind them is dubious, at best. Nutritionally speaking, water and fiber are your two best weapons against toxins in the body. Our bodies are usually very good at expelling toxins, but need water and fiber as the vehicle with which to do that.
Example: Seasoned chick peas, herbed barley, roasted peaches with cinnamon, and fresh salad.
Second Night: Arrival
Include dates, which Mother Leto ate upon Lord Apollon’s arrival. Include imported foods to remind us that Delos is barren and produces no food for herself. For our purposes, any food not produced locally or regionally is sufficient to consider “imported.” I live in the American South, for example, so anything produced west of the Mississippi river and north of Kentucky would be considered outside my region and, therefore, “imported,” even if it’s not necessarily from another country. The distinction isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, but rather one you can make for yourself based on what you would consider “regional.”
Apollon’s arrival may be cause to have a somewhat bigger, nicer, “Sunday Dinner” sort of meal, since we are inviting our Bright Lord on this day.
Example: Baked chicken with dried Mediterranean apricots, tropical fruit salad, brown rice or barley, steamed broccoli, and whole dates.
Third Night: Artemis
Food that has been caught from the wild or hunted would be appropriate for the third night, but availability and expense of something like venison or wild-caught fish might prevent this option from being a practical one. Instead, if you live in a household with children, it is their day to choose their favorite meal. Otherwise, a favorite meal from your own childhood, one that inspires fond remembrances, would also be appropriate. If you have pets, this is a good day to give them a special treat.
Example: Hot dogs, sweet potato fries, and baked beans with finely chopped onions and apples. For the dog: a small serving of unseasoned sweet potato, thoroughly cooked and skinned.
Fourth Night: Leto
Once again, this is a good night to serve dates, for the same reason as we did in the second night. This night, it is the mother’s night to choose what’s for dinner. If you are not yourself a mother or no mothers live in the household, you might choose something that reminds you fondly of a motherly figure in your life. This does not necessarily need to be your own mother, just someone who nurtured you as Mother Leto nurtures Her own children and those devoted to Her. Drink only water today and kindly offer water to others when you can. The people of Lycia denied water to Mother Leto, but water is for everyone and should be shared freely.
Example: Chopped dates with roasted nuts, ratatouille, barley with herbed pesto and flax seed.
Fifth Night: Awareness
There are some foods that are supposedly good for your brain and may help you be more alert and aware. The scholarship on this may change over time and we can always make adjustments if that happens. A modest amount of caffeine is appropriate today and foods like flax seed, almonds, eggs, beets, fatty fish (such as salmon), walnuts, fresh fruit, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, whole grains, broccoli, carrots, winter squash, and dark chocolate are purported to be good for concentration, focus, and memory.
Example: Spinach/tomato omelettes, whole wheat carrot nut muffins, orange juice
Sixth Night: Beauty
For the sixth night, it doesn’t matter what you decide to make as long as you put some effort forth into making it look nice. Make food with lots of bright, natural colors, make use of a little garnish, arrange the food nicely on the plate, tidy up the kitchen table, put out the good china. Even if you’re having chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese, put a sprig of parsley on top of that mac and cheese; make it look a little bit fancy.
Example: Purple cabbage with onions (sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper); steamed carrots tossed in honey and butter, baked herb chicken, parsley garnish.
Seventh Night: Fellowship
This is a good night to invite a friend to dinner or have a potluck with friends. You could even share food with friends and neighbors. There’s a lot of room for creativity and opportunity for strengthening friendships on this day.
Example: Chili and cornbread, but with friends.
Eighth Night: Quietude
For the eighth night, you will want to avoid caffeine and have foods that are calming in nature. Again, like the fifth night, our ideas about what foods are meant to have a calming effect on the body and brain might change over time and we can adjust accordingly when we have new information. As of now, however, you might consider asparagus (which tends to be expensive this time of year), avocados, berries, oranges, foods containing zinc (oysters are suggested, but I find them repulsive), walnuts, almonds, salmon, spinach, turkey, and oatmeal.
Example: (For breakfast) Oatmeal with dried berries and walnuts, sweetened with a little honey. (For dinner) Spinach salad topped with sliced almonds, mandarin oranges, avocado, slices of grilled or baked turkey, with a raspberry walnut dressing.
Ninth Night: Farewell
Hera gave an apple tree to Zeus as a wedding gift and it grows in Hyperborea under the heavy guard of the daughters of Atlas, the Hesperides, and the dragon Ladon. Not even Herakles could go and get any apples himself (having had to ask Atlas to do so), and even if we could, we would have to return them. We do, however, have delicious mortal realm apple trees, so thank the Gods for that! We can eat “golden,” yellow, or green apples on this day to remind us of the probably way more amazing ones that grow in Hyperborea.
This is also a good night for simple comfort foods, since we will soon be parted with our Bright Lord, the Discerning One. This may mean different things to different people, depending on your upbringing, but warm soups and stews or any sort of fare that reminds you of the comforts of home will do nicely. This is not a day for fancy food that takes hours to prepare.
Example: Grilled cheese and tomato soup with baked cinnamon apples.