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"Your mother can’t produce food out of thin air, no one can. Food is the first of the five Principal Exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfigura[tion]... 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..."
— The exceptions to Gamp's Law[src]

Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration was a magical law which dictated the rules of Transfiguration. There were five Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law, one of which was food.[1]

Description

The formulation of Gamp's Law was not exactly known, but food being one of its Principal Exceptions meant that it could not be created from nothing. Therefore, it could be reasonably inferred that Gamp's Law related in some way to Conjuration, the branch of transfiguration involving the creation of physical matter out of thin air. It could also be inferred that the other four exceptions were other categories of substance which could not be created from nothing.[1]

It should be noted that while food could not be outright created from nothing, it could be multiplied if one already had some food to multiply, it can be enlarged or the food could be summoned if one knew the approximate location and was fairly sure the food would still be there.[1]

In addition, while "good food" could not be conjured, consumable things such as sauces,[2] wine,[3] and potable water[4] could be, as they were not particularly nutritious substances. Furthermore, creatures could be conjured, such as snakes[5][6] and birds,[7][8] but whether or not they may be used in cooking to create edible or nourishing food is unknown.

History

McGonagall summoned food from elsewhere when she presented a never ending platter of sandwiches to Snape's office from the Hogwarts kitchens.[9] Rubeus Hagrid created additional food by using Engorgement Charms on already existing pumpkins.[10] As one of the Principal Exceptions to Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration, good food cannot be "made from thin air", but can be multiplied if one already has some food to multiply, it can be enlarged or the food can be summoned if one knows the approximate location.

In September 1997, after Ron commented that his mother could make good food out of thin air, Hermione stated that this was impossible, as food is one of the five Principal Exceptions to this law, but this only irritated Ron, who wanted her to "speak English", but was not satisfied by her explanation.[1]

On 1 May, 1998, after Neville Longbottom noted that the one thing that the Room of Requirement did not seem to be able to provide was food, Ron commented that food was one of the five Principal Exceptions to this law, to "general astonishment".[11]

Behind the scenes

  • Gamp's Law apparently uses the surname of the person who discovered it. Hesper Gamp, a witch married to Sirius Black II, might be that person or a relative of that person.[12] It is also possible, and perhaps more likely, that Ulick Gamp, the first ever Minister for Magic and founder of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, is the person in question.
  • According to W.O.M.B.A.T., it may or may not be possible to turn a random animal into a human. 
  • Although many things appear impossible to conjure, there is legislation in the wizarding world about what can and cannot be conjured.[13]

Appearances

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 15 (The Goblin's Revenge)
  2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 5 (Weasley's Wizard Wheezes)
  3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 18 (The Weighing of the Wands)
  4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 26 (The Cave)
  5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 11 (The Duelling Club)
  6. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 4, Chapter 12 (Working with Snape) - Transfiguration Lesson "Serpensortia"
  7. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Chapter 14 (Felix Felicis)
  8. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, Year 6, Chapter 9 (Artefact Check) - Transfiguration Lesson "Avis"
  9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 5 (The Whomping Willow)
  10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 7 (Mudbloods And Murmurs)
  11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 29 (The Lost Diadem)
  12. Black family tree
  13. AccioQuote! Interview
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