08 April 2013

Chicken Legs and Iron Pestles

I can't put a finger on why I love this image so. Is it the chicken feet? The magical triangles emanating from her fingertips? The bird on her head (which I like to think is a magpie)? Was I Lithuanian in another life?

It's a Lithuanian man-eating wood nymph, says Rima, but I can't help but think of Baba Yaga - she who flies around in a mortar and pestle and lives in a hut that stands on chicken legs. I always loved that story - but Baba Yaga isn't Lithuanian. Granted, in the case of Baba Yaga, it's her house that has the chicken legs, not the lady herself.

Come to think of it, the moving castle in my favorite Miyazaki movie also moves on chicken legs. So maybe it's just that I have a great affection for chicken legs, chicken feet? I know I always want to take a picture when I spot a tray of them in the Asian grocery store.

Hmm.

In my kitchen, I have my mother's mortar & pestle. Where she got it, I don't know - maybe family, maybe a flea market. But it's cast iron, with shapely mortar well suited to the hand, and a barbell-shaped double-ended pestle. Grinding spices in it sets up an industrial musical hum, and I think of Baba Yaga beating her pestle against her mortar - "fly faster!" she says, "we've children to eat!"

Rima's wood nymph, Howl's moving castle, my little mortar & pestle - disparate notions, yet so oddly interconnected. My mind is a weird place.

8 comments:

Harriet said...

I have a nearly identical mortar and pestle (or did before I move -- I'm not sure where it's ended up since) that comes from hungry. Mine's brass, but it's exactly the same shape. The person who got it for me in Budapest said that it had belonged to an apothecary. Apothecary has always been one of my favorite words, so I've always been rather fond of my mortar and pestle. Also, there's something comforting about two things that are only useful when together.

Rima said...

I like that little chain of connections! Art is supposed to trigger thoughts upon thoughts, so you just made my day! And I can see my laume using your mother's mortar and pestle ;)

ozma said...

I love the idea of a mortar and pestle and then bought one (not nearly so cool as that) and then could never find a purpose for it.

I know--grinding spices.

So now you've got me hankering for another (I lose mine) but the sad truth is that I'll have to get the recipes to go with it! No recipe I've ever used has suggested pestling anything.

I like the idea of having one for grinding up poisons. They do have inherent malevolent possibilities.

viviane said...

I use mine (made of olive tree wood) all the time, for garlic. But then, I'm French, so... I love yours, and I love the picture too.

Catherine said...

I enjoy tagging along wherever your mind takes you.

Did you see this picture I posted on instagram - of a chicken cooking at a wood-burning stove. Naturally. http://instagram.com/p/XqGjhrGfZD/

Janet said...

Makes it all the more interesting for the rest of us that read you :-)

Mary Gilmour said...

Yeah - but I love how it works!

Jocelyn said...

All of these things that appeal to you suffer from one commonality: great design. Takes a fine mind to recognize that, yes?