Posted in Family, Food

Zen and the art of Cooking

Is Cooking an art?

Cooking is just cooking. Cooking starts of as just a process to learn and then It becomes an art in the hands of an able master. A master chef would say that the best food is not made by its ingredients, but the way it is made with it. There is a lot of philosophy associated with Cooking than just following recipes. Recipes are mere guides. The universal truth about cooking is:

“The same dish cannot be made the same way, again!”

Even master chefs would agree to this. They would make it tasty every time, but it may not look or feel or even taste the same every time.

So what has Zen got to do with Cooking? Everything!

There may be a lot of aspects to cooking, but according to me there are 4 aspects that will make a particular food, the best product of art ever.

HOSPITALITY

Hospitality is not just about how you treat the guests. It is about how you bring your guests and set them free in the confines of your environment. The guest can be anyone – a new friend, or a relative or even the family in the house.

This is an aspect of cooking that happens before the chef even enters the kitchen. We can refer this to ambiance in a restaurant to an extent. We always have some anxiety in a new place. Hospitality is about letting that go away and making them comfortable. Only a relaxed mind, a mind that is free, a mind that is sure about its environment, will be able to taste the goodness in a good food. Even Wolfgang puck would need this for his food to taste good.

I know this is abstract, but a little prior knowledge about the guest will help you make this happen. This is where the non-cooking member plays an important role in cooking (see the paradox here?). They can make the person feel comfortable by talking things of their interest or indulging in simple activities of their interest that can free their mind.

This is what they call it as – ‘BE AT HOME’

COOKING SPACE

How would you like to have your food? In a Clean Plate or In a plate that is not washed?

If you answered Clean plate, then why should you start cooking in a dirty kitchen? Space is precious. According to Zen, Space and the Material world go together. They are different entities, yet they cannot be separated and hence they are one. Would you know how to define space if there was nothing but space in this world and vice versa?

So it is very important to start cooking in a space that is clean, that is devoid of anything from your previous stint of cooking. Just like how the universe appeared from the void or singularity, your cooking should also start from nothing or Shoonya (Zero) or empty space.

A Clean space will indicate a clean mind, a clean mind with no prejudices and hence the cooking will start with no silly assumptions from before. You will be creative each time. Why do you think programmers like to write the code from Scratch? Why do you think Mothers clean the kitchen space before hitting the bed every night?

Start with a Clean Slate everyday!

SPONTANEOUS

When Arjuna was learning to shoot the arrow, he was asked what he saw through his eyes, as he aimed. He said he saw the eyes of a bird. When he shot the arrow after that, he didn’t think even for a second. He just shot it.

So if you know what to do and figured out how to do, just do it. The moment you think as you do, you will likely be derailed from the original plan. You may end up spoiling the dish. But at the same time, if you think you can add a pinch of salt more than what the recipe says, then just add it without thinking. That will be spontaneous. Your alterations to the recipe should also happen in a spontaneous way. Also, the alterations you did today, may not work the same way the next day, so don’t bother to take notes of those alterations.

Just feel the flow, and be spontaneous. Why do you think a Mother’s food tastes the best in the world. It is because she knows you more than you think she does and she cooks the food in a spontaneous way which will make you love it! That is why it is called the Mother’s touch. It is her spontaneous alterations that suits the needs of the family, makes it taste the best in the world.

COOKING MIND

What is on your mind today? Happiness or Sorrow or Jealousy or any kind of emotions? Your food that you cook will reflect what is in your mind. So what is the best emotion that should be on your mind when you cook? Is it Happiness or should we not have any emotion at all?

It is Love that you should have in your mind when you cook. When you mind is full of love for your family and yourself , your food will taste fantastic. You can’t hate yourself and still love others, only when you love yourself (which is not the same as self centered) you will be able to love others. It flows from the inside to outside.

A Mother’s food tastes the best because of the love she radiates from within herself to the whole family. We fail to see that in her most of the times, but we sure enough love the food that she cooks. What we like is not just the tasty food, but we indirectly feel that love. And when you tell her that you enjoyed the food very much, that is all the acknowledgment she needs, to know that her love has reached you.

Cook like a mother, with all the love in your mind.

Here is an Imaginary Conversation with the Wife:

Wife: “You don’t cook much or often. All you did was a silly Rasam when you were a Bachelor! How can you even write an article on the art of cooking?”

Me: “Why not! Did Vatsayana, before writing his book, ever …” (Wife Interrupts).

Wife: “Enough, I got the point. Now, Let’s keep your blog at PG!”

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Author:

I am a Software Engineer by profession. My interests are in Computers, Science, Technology, Movies, Music, Photography and Writing. I love to do a lot of things, but am still searching for the ultimate thing that I can love to do. You will find here all the volcanic outbursts of my creative side as I explore the world through my perspective. Well, mainly fun, what's world without any fun!

33 thoughts on “Zen and the art of Cooking

    1. I totally agree that cooking is an art
      In fact everything can be an art. Except, Art can only be art and it cannot be anything else, like Cooking πŸ™‚

      Did you get the hint?
      What hint? The Hint for the Art or the Cooking or the Conversation or the Analogy used in the Conversation πŸ™‚ he he πŸ™‚

    1. No one is perfect in this world, so why practice?
      True, we are not going to be perfect anyway. So we can forget about practice and just keep doing it! We are practicing anyway by just doing it, I mean cooking.

      BTW, everything other than cooking was found in your post!
      Right, If I do Cooking in my blog, where will I write my blog post? in my Kitchen πŸ™‚ Just kidding πŸ™‚

    1. great criketeers never made good coaches
      Correct, only ICF (Integral Coach Factory) made Coaches, Good or bad πŸ™‚

      good coaches were never great in their days!
      It is not even good in the nights!

      thats PG!
      In this case it will be PG-13 if the train had 13 coaches πŸ™‚

  1. //How would you like to have your food? In a Clean Plate or In a plate that is not washed?//

    Thank God I answered the latter to that one πŸ˜€ Else you would’ve guilted me into cleaning my kitchen. (alright, kidding :P)

    I wonder if anyone has written on “Zen and the art of the Art of Zen”?

    -g

    1. you would’ve guilted me into cleaning my kitchen.
      You know, you can always delegate it. Ok, I need to hide this reply, Quick! before my wife sees it and gets the same idea!

      I wonder if anyone has written on β€œZen and the art of the Art of Zen”?
      You see, that will lead to an infinite loop. I think if someone is writing on that topic, they would be in the infinite loop (Not the Apple Campus), still writing about it πŸ™‚

    1. what’s with so much of mom’s love eh?
      Mother’s day is fast approaching. I am preparing myself for that!

      Last evening, my little one told me she’d rather go buy a pizza than eat my cooking.
      Then you should show all your love for her, in driving her to the restaurant or making the phone call to place the order for Pizza. Good thing is, it will save your Kitchen cleaning activity πŸ™‚

  2. Wow!! Zen and cooking. Never thought of relating the two; but now it does kinda makes sense. πŸ™‚
    Thanks for the enlightenment, now should go and cook something for A which he would end up not eating!!

    1. Zen and cooking. Never thought of relating the two
      Actually, you can related Zen to everything. That’s why there is even a book named – “Zen and the art of Motor Cycle maintenance”!

      Thanks for the enlightenment, now should go and cook something for A which he would end up not eating
      You are welcome πŸ™‚ I am sure A will eat it, if you add all the love in the form of Honey and Sugar πŸ™‚ he he … just kidding. Kids to like Sweets!

    1. But how will you know if you have the talent in you, unless you tried? So everyone should keep cooking until they die, or atleast someone else dies because of what you cooked πŸ™‚ Kidding πŸ™‚

    1. This blog is PG ?
      Duh! Yeah, I think I have told this like 13 times. Oh, Does that make it PG-13!!!

      Now, tell me whats cooking ?
      It is all in your hands. I mean obviously you have to use your hands for cooking.

  3. This is a top notch blog. I have been back many times over the past 7 days and wish to join your feed by using Google but find it difficult to ascertain how to do it precisly. Do you know of any tutorials?

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