Both a cookbook and an introduction to the practice of American Zen Buddhism, Three Bowls
is a distinctive collection of vegetarian recipes from Seppo Ed Farrey, the tenzo (chef) of the Dai Bosatsu Zendo, a traditional Zen Buddhist monastery in New York State. Each day, Farrey must create precisely timed meals for a hundred people using a limited range of ingredients; despite these demands, his dishes are substantial, never dull, and often inspired. "Three bowls" refers to the monastic way of eating from a large, a medium, and a small bowl. The largest bowl is customarily filled with a grain-based dish such as Spicy Rice Bake with Black-Eyed Peas, Collard Greens, and Sweet Potato. The medium bowl typically holds a protein-rich, flavorful stew, such as Almond Thai Curry, an aromatic blend of potatoes, tofu, carrots, and spices. Salads or vegetable side dishes are served in the smallest bowl, and these dishes can be especially enticing, with such examples as greens with tangy Red Grape Dressing or green beans stir-fried with the zest and juice of an orange. Since food provides the only sensory relief to the relentless routine of the day, the occasional dessert is usually extraordinary, such as the Samsara Cheesecake, a rich and dense blend of cream cheese and ricotta sweetened with honey and maple syrup. Descriptions of life at the monastery and lucid explanations of Zen practice are interspersed throughout Three Bowls
. Moving and centering, they offer as much nourishment and inspiration as the food in this lovingly created book.
From Publishers Weekly
Here is a cookbook with an unusual goal--to simultaneously excite the taste buds and calm the mind. The authors succeed on the strength of their sincerity: Farrey is the tenzo (head chef) at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, a Zen Buddhist monastery located in New York's Catskill Mountains, and O'Hara is a meditation group leader. Together, they have pulled together a collection of eclectic vegetarian (and some vegan) recipes that reflect love and respect for good food as well as for the spiritual life. The book's title refers to the traditional way in which meals are served at Zen monasteries--a large bowl of rice, noodles or other grain food serves as the base of the meal, accompanied by a medium bowl of stew or soup and a small bowl of salad or vegetables. The section of rice recipes presents a study in Zen-like contradictions with offerings such as Japanese-inspired Shiitake Rice, Southern-style Spicy Rice Bake with Black-Eyed Peas, Collard Greens and Sweet Potatoes, and Mushroom and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto. Curries and quinoa often form second bowl recipes, and a selection of salads and dressings fill the third. The book starts with breakfast rice and porridge recipes and ends, of course, with desserts, such as Double-Berry Poached Pears. Interspersed among the recipes are short meditations on work, food and life at the monastery, which are complemented by Asian brush calligraphy illustrations by Eido Tai Shimano Roshi, the monastery's abbot. This is a lovely book for those interested in nourishing body and soul.
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