The cooking process is pure chemistry. The chemical components of foodstuffs react with each other when we follow set methods to achieve the desired results of a recipe: evaporation, condensation, agglutination and so on. We sometimes forget how similar our kitchens are to professional laboratories, not only because we share basic principles of chemistry but also because often we combine ingredients for the benefit of our own bodies.

In his book, Dr. Peter Schleicher guides us with a thorough historical explanation of the power of alchemy, and the healing attributes of plants and other natural products, toward chronic illnesses, primarily cancer. By using the highest quality of ingredients and exact combinations, followed by traditional methods of alchemy like separatio (separation), purificatio (purification), Cohobatio (combination), to name a few, we get a pure result, a natural remedy which can be used towards the treatment of a specific ailment or disease.

The information presented is fascinating and well-sourced. Together with Erin Witzigmann, he applies the principles describe above into the cooking process and, like surgeons, they create a set of delicious detailed recipes, each one with notes from an alchemist’s point of view. The recipes are compiled into different categories, such as Apertifs, Starters & Desserts, Soups, Cold Dishes, Vegetarian Dishes, Fishes & Meat.

This is a holistic approach to the cooking process for instance seen in the recipe ‘Ice-Cold Mint Tea with Schezuan Pepper”: the combination of mint with the pepper accelerates the metabolism so that the body copes with the heat. The overall recipes are varied and the combination of ingredients is not only proven to be beneficial to the body but is in most cases appetising, the book also has glossary of foodstuffs and culinary terms, alchemically assessed.

‘The Alchemy of Food” is a well researched and put together publication for those who are interested in the natural healing properties of food and in how specific combinations can heal the body. The overall style is of a medical, albeit approachable. nature. I wish the photograph styling was less staged, somehow it feels slightly old fashioned and lacking energy. Food should not only benefit the body but also entice the eyes. All in all though a great book that will help you maximise the benefits of a meal, not only to the body but also to the mind.