Top positive review
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Tasty for the palate and the spirit. But eating in silence?
on August 27, 2000
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. There are 14 grain/bean/tofu stew and curry dishes for the second bowl, including a quinoa veggie stew, sweet potato burritos, a sunflower based stuffing, and a mushroom quinoa nut loaf. The 13 veggie dishes include asparagus with lime and tamari; kale with tofu; a non dairy mashed potato that uses pureed tofu, beets with hijiki, and tahini butternut squash. The 17 salads and dressings include beet raiti, a faux chicken salad that uses tempeh and lemon juice; and a red grape salad dressing. Of the eleven soups only four are miso (thankfully). As for desserts, as mentioned above, there are muffins, baked goods, spreads, pates, pestos, and sauces including cheesecake and rice pudding (yes, Zen meditators can let loose with pudding and cake).