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UK, Europe and the World, 18th January 2007
The Guardian Online reports on foodblogging... is anybody (else) foodandweatherblogging?
Here are some samples!
- Tamarind and Thyme
- cook the books
- Chocolat & Zucchini.com
- chez pim
- Andy Hayler
The Cook's Story
India is a land of stories and story-tellers. Very often the cook is one such story-teller, having plenty of time in which to invent stories and in which to perfect them. When cooks meet their friends they not only discuss the culinary arts but may frequently while away the time exchanging stories, many of which start life as an actual occurrence. In the house of a certain learned pandit, the celebrated cook Deviprasad was entertaining an old friend from Bangalore. After rinsing their mouths with scented water, the two friends settled down to a smoke and to talk about old times. 'You know,' said the cook's friend, 'these merchants are great yarners. You never know whether to believe anything they tell you.' 'That's true,' agreed the cook. 'And you never know whether they're really trying to sell you something.' 'Well, I met quite an agreeable one on my way here as a matter of fact. He told me an odd story which only made me realise what a cunning old devil he was.' 'Go on!' urged the cook, 'what did he have to say then?' The friend took a puff at his smoke while they both eased themselves into a more comfortable position...
Extract from Indian Vegetarian Cookery by Jack Santa Maria published by Rider & Co (1973) ISBN 0091163919
Tea Life, Tea Mind
A disciple of Sen Rikyu once asked this question:
"What precisely are the most important things that must be understood and kept in mind at a tea gathering?"
Sen Rikyu answered: "Make a delicious bowl of tea; lay the charcoal so that it heats the water; arrange the flowers as they are in the field; in summer suggest coolness; in winter, warmth; do everything ahead of time; prepare for rain; and give those with whom you find yourself every consideration."
The disciple, somewhat dissatisfied with this answer because he could not find anything in it of such great importance that it should be deemed a secret of the practice, said, "That much I already know...."
Rikyu replied, "Then if you can host a tea gathering without deviating from any of the rules I have just stated, I will become your disciple."
-- Soshitsu Sen XV, Tea Master, Urasenke School in Tea Life, Tea Mind
Cooking in My Childhood
When I was a child in the 1960s, growing up in the over-crowded hutongs, the maze of alleys and courtyards in the north-east of Beijing, people would always greet their friends and neighbours with the words 'Che fan le ma?' (Have you eaten?). If the answer was yes, then they would immediately ask, 'Che de she ma?' (What did you eat?) and expect a detailed, colourful description. From the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in the summer of 1966, people were not free to express their thoughts about so many things - books, poetry, music, society, even love, anything that was not precisely in tune with the Revolution. But with cooking, though ingredients were limited, people were still free to discuss their ideas, to share thoughts and opinions about food, to argue passionately as the Chinese love to do. Food and nature were the two most frequent subjects of private conversation: the colours of a bird and the pattern of its song, or the beauty of a tree in blossom, the texture of a vegetable dish or the intricate folds of a handmade dumpling, these were subjects that were not officially controlled by anyone. People were free to let their words and imagination take flight.
Music and food existed side by side in our courtyard, where the sounds of musicians practising their instruments and singing were regularly accompanied by the rhythmic chopping, dramatic sounds and irresistible smells of Chinese home cooking. When my parents first moved to the alley, they bought a wooden bed and a round wooden table, painted yellow, which we used for eating, writing, chopping vegetables, whatever we were doing: it was the centre of our family life.
Quotes from Music, Food and Love - A Memoir by Guo Yue and Clare Farrow.
Hardcover, 256 pages, January 2006, published by Portrait, ISBN 0749950781
It is imperative for the tenzo to involve himself personally in both the selection and the preparation of ingredients.
The tenzo also inspects the rice as it is washed in order to ensure the absence of sand or grit. This he carefully discards, but not without being on constant guard for even one grain of rice that might be mistakenly wasted. He at no time lets his mind wander as he cleans the rice. The tenzo also concerns himself with the 'six tastes' and the 'three virtues' (rokumi santoku). The six tastes are bitter, sour, sweet, hot, salty and 'delicate' (ewai), and the tenzo works to balance these effectively, while also incorporating the three virtues of lightness and softness, cleanliness and freshness, and precision and care. In so doing, he expresses the spirit of shojin cookery. A balance of the six tastes and the three virtues happens naturally when, in the cleaning of the rice, the washing of the vegetables, the boiling in the pot, and in all the other aspects of the cooking process, the tenzo commits himself totally and directs his attention to nothing else but the work at hand.
Quotes from Good Food from a Japanese Temple: Six Hundred Year Tradition of Simple, Elegant Vegetable Cooking by Soei Yoneda, Abbess of Sanko-in Temple.
Paperback, 244 pages, November 1982 published by Kodansha Europe, ISBN 0870115278.
Time is the key
In the case of Pombal, it was only a question of time - he had extended the cooking time of his dishes, and lowered the speed of "cuisson", explaining, "They are more imbued with my spirit, than dishes which are rushed. Time is the key."
Caesar's Vast Ghost - Aspects of Provence by Lawrence Durrell (page 29)
Cooking is a sacred activity. It is an act of lovemaking. Our society is spiritually malnourished because we have abandoned the kitchen.
Laura Esquivel author of Like Water for Chocolate
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