Recipes for Dreaming

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Dreaming = free and fun. Done correctly, it can fill those apparently useless sleeping hours with adventure. For the benefit of mankind, we have tested the following notorious dream-causing foods, to see which has the most spectacular results:
1. Cheese
This is probably the most famously dream-inducing food in popular myth. To test this thoroughly, we ate a large amount of Gorgonzola pizza shortly before bedtime.
Result: Tedious dreams which are mostly administrative – having a lot of visitors turn up without enough beds, people whose invitations I haven’t replied to, packing suitcases for a plane that’s about to leave, etc.
Conclusion: Quantity, but not quality.
2. Chocolate
Eating chocolate before bed seems to be widely associated with having bad dreams.
Sounds like a myth invented by unscrupulous, tooth-protecting parents. Sceptical, the subject ingested a combination of “double chocolate” mousse, hot chocolate, and a few truffles to be on the safe side.
Result: Surprisingly, that parental threat turns out to be completely true. An almost text-book nightmare follows: a figure suddenly sits up in the next bed, in the style of Whistle and I’ll Come to You, and says, “I am The Undertaker.” It’s all downhill from there.
Conclusion: Listen to your mother.
3. Chilli
Spicy food is often blamed for vivid dreams. We ate at a Sichuan restaurant, where all the food is exceptionally fiery.
Result: A cascade of dreams. I am at a banquet wearing a gaberdine mac which I realise will infuriate the king. I am being chased so turn into a bird, and fly over a pub where I overhear the owners discussing the secret recipe for their special burgers (they use coconut). My fortune is made! And so on.
On the minus side, my fellow guinea pig complains that he’s spent the whole night fighting imaginary gatecrashers at a student party.
Conclusion: Impressive, but may require a lie-in afterwards.
4. Lobster
There’s a reason why the surrealists loved lobsters: they and other shellfish have long been thought to cause wild dreams.
A recent trip to the French seaside gave us the opportunity to test this out.
Result: A night packed with entertainment and strangeness. Robots made of blue-and-white patterned porcelain; people playing boules on a dark river with candles in paper boats; using a saw like this:
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Conclusion: Deluxe dreaming. Highly recommended.
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6 thoughts on “Recipes for Dreaming

  1. Stan

    There seems to be an element of self-fulfilling prophecy in the generation of some dreams, especially lucid dreams. So I wonder whether your chocolate nightmare arose at least partly because of expectation and prior association. But I applaud your original research, and I appreciate the pretty pictures.
    Have you read Whistle and I’ll Come to You? I haven’t seen the Omnibus adaptation, or any other adaptation, but the short story is very good.

  2. Emma

    Yes it’s a great story. I recommend the Jonathan Miller film if you haven’t seen it – strangely frightening, even more so because it’s Michael Hordern being menaced and he’s usually in such safe, comfortable roles

  3. Emma

    Hm, I’d say in my experience alcohol tends to cut down on dreaming altogether or at least on remembering them – but please keep me posted on the results of your own experiments.

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