When I was young, I wanted a chemistry set. I imagined myself performing wild experiments and stumbling upon remarkable discoveries. I pictured carefully measuring out substances into different beakers and containers, in an effort to reproduce one of my discoveries. I imagined surprise and satisfaction.
But I never owned a chemistry set. I owned very few things I didn’t truly need. My mother worked hard but didn’t earn much, so we got what we needed and only rarely what we didn’t. So, I never got to play chemist (other than occasionally in school), and never came close to any kind of alchemy.
Now, as an adult with a mild baking obsession, I realise I had all I needed in order to get what I thought a chemistry set would give me. I get to measure out and combine different ingredients, discover how they affect each other, and see results, both expected and unexpected. And I get to repeat and refine the process.
It’s not quite alchemy, but it is chemistry, and it is incredibly satisfying.