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3 Bowls: Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Buddhist Monastery Paperback – May 16, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Rux Martin/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (May 16, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039597707X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0395977071
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 7.5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #317,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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This is not just a bunch of recipes, though it has some good ones.
David H. Kline
The book is wonderfully written and you don't feel as if you're reading a cook book or recipe book - it all flows together so seamlessly.
Patricia Gray
This book brings back the joy of cooking not just as an art form but as nurturing as mother earth is.
Marco Prado

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

85 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Larry Mark MyJewishBooksDotCom on August 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was drawn to this book by its cover, so sometimes it is possible to tell a book by its cover. Seppo Ed Farrey is the head chef for the Dai Basatsu Zendo in Livingston Manor, NY, a catskills retreat 20 miles from the smallest town. It is a Rinzai Zen monastery led by Eido T Shimano Roshi. As the abbott, he teaches that cooking can be a practice of spirituality, since it involves beauty, economy of movement, lack of waste, and punctuality. The co-author cooks for nearly two dozen monks and laypeoplen, and up to 70 visitors. Meals are punctual, 7:15 AM and 1 PM. Meals are served and eaten in silence. Each diner gets three bowls and a set of chopsticks (Did you ever try to eat oatmeal with chopsticks?) The large bowl contains the main dish, the middle bowl contains a stew or curry, and the small bowl will contain a vegetable or salad (not a lettuce and tomato salad though). This book is filled with inspiring, simple, nutritious recipes, as well as a few pages dedicated to Zen terms and ingredient descriptions, and a page of 3 mail order sources for a few ingredients (this should have been expanded!) The book is also filled with sidebars and explanations on Zen practice: such as the Zen way to crack a hard boiled egg, sitting sesshin, jikijitsu, 10 precepts of buddhism, kinhin (walking meditation), dokusan (the interview with the roshi), doing zazen, and meal chants. The recipes include 10 breakfast dishes, like cream of quinoa, oatmeal pancakes, and 5 grain porridge. There are 10 rice dishes like spinach rice with tamari and mirin, shitaki rice, and a spicy rice bake with collard greens, black eyed peas and sweet potato. There are 8 noodle dishes like szechuan green beans and soba, or a classic marinara sauce that uses applesauce, onions, and fennel.Read more ›
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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book is a true work of art and of heart. The recipes are creative and exciting. The book is calming. The recipes are imaginative and include clear preparation techniques. Many recipes harmoneously combine unlikely ingredients. Many provide alternate ways to prepare the same recipe.
Included with the recipes is a well-written personal tour of the Zen Buddhist Monastery including meditations. The book's title, 3Bowls, almost becomes alive when they explain how foods are traditionally served at the Monastery.
The authors' love and respect for food, as well as the spiritual life, is clear and contageous. I am overwhelmed by this book. I find myself repeatedly reading each page. Even the paper upon which the book is printed is joyous. The recipes work whether you are cooking for one or many. This is definately a great tool for those of us seeking ways to calm ourselves, remember our spirt, and nourish our bodies.
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35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Julia Rohan on June 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
After a year of meditating daily, I knew it was time to rethink my eating habits. I bought this book on Thursday. On Friday, I made the Quinoa Vegetable Stew (had to ask at the health food store what "quin-wah" was!) and the Schezuan Green Beans and Soba noodles. The next day we tried the Red Potato Salad with Asparagus and Artichoke Hearts (with my own substitutions) and Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup. Everything was superb, and so simple! I felt as though I had experienced eating as it should be...This is food that nourishes the body and the spirit. Wonderful to prepare, uplifing to eat!
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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Pallas on December 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
Pretend you're the farthest thing from a vegetarian. Pretend you would never, in a million years, pick up some flaky, hippie cookbook.

The recipe for Apricot-Sweet Potato Oatmeal is still worth the cover price, and you will NEVER bother to make a single batch. Double it every time.

Apparently, eating simply does not at all preclude eating well, since these simple, nutritionally dense recipes produce complex, delicious dishes.

Excellent for busy families, most recipes can easily be one-pot meals, frozen for later, and/or prepped for easy cooking.

For us, the anecdotal philosophy was an added bonus and helped us to eat mindfully as well. However, even if you completely ignore the margins, footnotes, and insets this book will be one covered in foodie fingerprints within a week!
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Courtney L. Lewis on August 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
I really purchased this book on a whim - and was delightfully surprised. I'm always looking for good vegetarian cookbooks and this book by Farrey and O'Hara is now a favorite. Simple but delicious recipes combine with serene anecdotes of life in a Zen monastery and the "mindfulness" of food and meditation. The use of tofu is effortless and inspired unlike many vegetarian cookbooks that struggle with making it into a "meat analog". Using fresh, in season produce, the soups and stews are hearty and flavorful and all recipes have thankfully been cut down to normal portions (versus cooking for 40 monks as the author usually does). A treasured resource.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 16, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a great book! The recipes are delicious and easy to follow. After buying the book I immediately made the Broccoli Rabe with Ginger, Honey and Lemon. Delicious! You don't necessarily have to be a vegetarian to enjoy these wonderfully tasty and easy to prepare meals. Included with the recipes are beautifully descriptive and evocative commentaries about life at the Zen monastery where the authors practice. These descriptions add a unique dimension to this "gem" of a cookbook. A perfect addition to my kitchen library and a great gift book!
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