Imagine the scene in Ghost- the one when Demi Moore is sitting at the pottery wheel with a button-up shirt, slowly working clay into a bowl. Late 1980s sex symbol Patrick Swayze comes up behind her from the shadows and embraces her with strong, yet gentle arms. They kiss, become one, all while the wheel continues spinning, the bowl falling from its form. What if that had been dough she had been kneading for a loaf of fresh bread? How would the scene have come out differently? How would that have affected the oh-so sweet lovemaking?
Sure, getting clay in random places can be exhilarating – just think of those expensive clay peels people pay ridiculous amounts of money for at swanky health spas. But what about flour and water? Does goopy bread dough have the same effect as the rhythmic wheel? Perhaps if it were fudge-like brownie dough, with the intoxicating aromas of chocolate in the air, then there might be something there. But that’s pretty obvious isn’t it – chocolate and sex? And what if someone were allergic to cocoa? Passionate kisses and hives…hmmm I don’t think so. What is it about moldable clay that can be portrayed so sexually and so enticingly that a simple ball of yeasted, olive oil-rubbed artisan wheat lacks? Both are controlled materials, and very malleable in their compositions. The maker/creator should have firm hands, knowing just how to work the dough or clay.
The connection between food and sex goes back to the early days of man. Ancient peoples believed different plants, vegetables, and fruits held mythical powers that could heal or strengthen those who partook of their elements. Bread has been a staple food for so many cultures that its seductive qualities may now be overlooked. The significance of bread cannot be merely seen as a nutritious foodstuff.
Going back to the 14th century, we discover that Spain’s Archbishop of Hita produced a narrative verse, Libro de Buen Amor, which includes an account of his time spent lost in the mountains, being fed and seduced by the serranas (practitioners of food magic) during which time he experienced the “transformation, preparation, and internalization” of food and drink vis a vis the “use of aphrodisiacs and philters to enchant and seduce.” Certainly with bread making there is the transformation of grain to flour, which is then used to prepare cakes and breads—“fertility symbols in many cultures.” P.V. Tabenier points out “many psychologists have observed that cooking is frequently equated with the process of pregnancy and birth and that the womb is the stove inside which the child is baked. Ancient gods such as Zeus were conceived of as millers and their consorts as mills; the human race was the product they ground and baked and on a terrestrial scale, man and woman performed similar functions.” Bread, like a fetus, is a growing being. As the yeast rises, the form grows in size, becoming heartier, filled with air and substance. When it comes time to put it in the oven, it has become fully developed.
The Archbishop refers to various foods that were deemed to be sexually empowering: “diome foguera de enzina, mucho gacapo de soto, buenas perdizes asadas, fogacas mal amassadas, de buena carne de choto.” [much woodland rabbit, good roast partridges, badly kneaded loaves, good kid meat]. These foods were treated as cures for impotence. Camilo Jose Cela writes that a bollo (a bread roll) is a metaphor for a penis or vulva, while kneading was a metaphor for intercourse. The fact that the bread was poorly kneaded implies that the serrana is “sexually unfulfilled or inexperienced.” She either wanted to practice on the priest or just be satisfied with forbidden acts. Ultimately, for both the serrana and the Archbishop, the “act of feeding is the act of seduction.”
In a more explicit manner, during the 17th century, English women would bake cockle-bread for their men as a way to satisfy their appetites and satisfy something else. The dough would be kneaded and pressed against the women’s vulvas and then baked. Talk about yeast. John Aubrey, an English antiquary, wrote:
Young wenches have a wanton sport which they call ‘moulding of cocklebread’ – they get upon a table-board, and then gather up their knees and their coates with their hands as high as they can then they wabble to and fro with their buttocks as if they were kneading of dough with their arses, and say these words: `My dame is sick and gone to bed/ And I’ll go mould my cocklebread’. I did imagine nothing to have been in this but mere wantonness of youth, but here I find it to be a relic of natural magic, an unlawful philtrum [ie. aphrodisiac or love charm].
Now let’s look at some etymology: the word “companion” comes from Latin, which translates into “one with whom bread is shared.” So when we go out and try to find that special somebody to bump and grind with, we’re essentially searching for someone to share a piece of crusty baguette, hearty rye, some hearty whole grain, or any other bread that you have on hand, or leg, rather. Demi, go and get your ghost-lover; feed him the bread of your soul.