71

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when the kids and Arthur get to The Burrow from Privet Drive and Molly is cooking and raging about Fred and George's shenanigans, the following occurs:

Mrs. Weasley slammed a large copper saucepan down on the kitchen table and began to wave her wand around inside it. A creamy sauce poured from the wand tip as she stirred.

In Deathly Hallows, Hermione says that this is not possible:

“Your mother can’t produce food out of thin air,” said Hermione. “no one can. Food is the first of the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfigura—”

“Oh, speak English, can’t you?” Ron said, prising a fish out from between his teeth.

“It’s impossible to make good food out of nothing! You can Summon it if you know where it is, you can transform it, you can increase the quantity if you’ve already got some—”

So how was Molly causing sauce to pour from her wand, seemingly out of thin air?

  • 1
    I'm sure I read somewhere that Molly had a little bit of sauce in the pan already and simply made more of it, just can't think where I saw it now! – Often Right Jun 22 '15 at 0:38
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    I don't think this is a dupe. The answer in the other question says "I don't know" re: Molly producing sauce from her wand. That is not a useful answer. As to JKR being inconsistent, that, too, is not that case. She has always been clear that you cannot create food from thin air, but you can summon food that already exists (i.e. Hogwarts food for its students) from Point A to Point B. Neither are the questions asking about the same thing. I say it's not a dupe -- just my $0.02. :) – Slytherincess Jun 22 '15 at 0:48
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    Actually, they can make food out of thin air. It will just disappear in a few hours, and have zero nutritional value. Makes a great filler without the fat afterwards. – user16696 Jun 22 '15 at 6:02
  • Fair call @Slytherincess ;) – Often Right Jun 22 '15 at 6:47
123

Since we know that real food can't be created from nothingness, that leaves us with a few options:

  • Molly is summoning the sauce from somewhere else, presumably elsewhere in the kitchen (decidedly possible. We see this happen repeatedly in the Hogwarts Dining Hall).

  • There was already some sauce in the pan and she's using a spell to make it expand (unlikely, given how clean she likes to keep them).

  • She's transforming something else in the kitchen into the sauce (like how a trek-style replicator works).

Or my personal favourite explanation;

  • Like Leprechaun gold, food that is created using magic will evidently dissipate after a while. Molly is conjuring a magic sauce to bulk out the real food (perhaps a low quality meat). As long as there's some nutritious content, when the sauce goes 'poof' they won't starve. This also explains why Ron and his brothers are so skinny despite everyone in the family taking second servings.

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    Your final answer is also inkeeping with the poor financial situation of the Weasleys, which makes it seem like the most logical answer to me. +1 – Dr R Dizzle Jun 22 '15 at 7:57
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    I think it's the opposite. What chef or health minded person wouldn't want all the flavor and sensation of fancy food without the negative health aspects. In real life it would be a luxury not a poor man's option. – user16696 Jun 22 '15 at 12:25
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    @cde - I rather suspect it would explain why so many wizards seem so dammed unhealthy. Why buy quality steak when you can buy donkey and make it taste like steak? – Valorum Jun 22 '15 at 14:13
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    to be fair, all food that was cooked eventually goes back to its original form (ie constituent nutrients, not donkey steak turning back into real donkey, that is!). BTW horse meat (or donkey, one presumes) is just as much meat as beef, but quite a bit less fatty. – gbjbaanb Jun 22 '15 at 15:14
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    Why so negative regarding donkey meat. Originally salami was, and in some places still is, made of donkey meat. And as gbjbaanb mentioned horse meat is the healthier, and in my opinion tastier, choice than beef. – Thomas Jun 23 '15 at 13:14
34

Gamp's Elemental Law of Transfiguration does not allow a person to conjure food from thin air. It does not allow food to be made from that which did not exist before. However, J.K. Rowling has made it very clear that food that already exists can be summoned from one place to another. Molly likely summoned the sauce from another area, and channeled it so it poured from the end of her wand into the pot.

17

We see characters absorb things into their wands, for example when Hermione cleans spilled ink off of someone's homework. It is sort of sucked into the wand tip. I always suspected that Molly made a sauce earlier and, as many mothers might freeze food for later, absorbed it into her wand for use when she was cooking.

I don't recall much being expelled from a wand in this style, though warm air is used from the wand to dry clothes etc. Though I'm not saying they sat by a fire once absorbing warm air for use later.

  • 3
    Good point. Can you think of an example where we see them expelling it afterwards? That would turn this from an okay answer into a great one. – Valorum Jun 22 '15 at 20:55
  • Edited to feature the only expelling I can think of. – ThruGog Jun 22 '15 at 21:01
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    Ooh! That might explain scifi.stackexchange.com/q/33468/4918 – b_jonas Jun 23 '15 at 13:03
4

Food is a rather imprecise term.

Magic can conjure things a person can swallow, and can surely alter the taste of something. We even know that magic can even conjure things that are healthy to consume, such as water.

It is not a stretch to imagine that the sauce, while delicious, does not count as food in the relevant technical sense.

0

Perhaps there is a Home Ec class given at Hogwarts. Molly could have magically combined the ingredients without the fuss of actually getting things out of the refrigerator (though I don't believe the Weasleys had one of those either) or pantry. JKR would need to clarify.

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    We're looking for the clarification here. We usually look for support for theories. Could you provide any evidence for this magical combination of ingredients? – Edlothiad Aug 21 '17 at 1:10
-2

Maybe she combines, with a single spell, various ingredients already in her kitchen to produce the sauce. Or maybe she is able to conjure it out of thin air as sauce is not food! There you go!

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    Hello and Welcome to [sff.se]. We normally look for sourced posts to answer question. Do you have any evidence to suggest this was the case? Or any snippets of text that suggest such an act was possible? – Edlothiad May 3 '18 at 12:24
-3

She could have simply transformed the air into a sauce. You can transform anything you want living or not. So simply transforming the air into a nice sauce would work.

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    that expressly contradicts Gamp's Law as stated by the generally reliable Granger. Literally, she says 'you can't make something out of thin air' - which is exactly what you seem to suggest – NKCampbell May 2 '17 at 15:57
  • @NKCampbell it is an expression. Out of thin air means out of nothing. If you made the air solid or liquid (as it is possible with cold or compression) you could then transform it. – Christopher May 2 '17 at 20:33

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