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.
Perhaps no Eastern religion is considered more chic and intellectually sophisticated in America today than Zen Buddhism. Offering an autonomous path to mystical enlightenment that does not demand acceptance of Eastern mythology and culture, Zen is well suited for the “post-modern” American. Yet, Zen is actually an anti-intellectual approach to truth that denies fundamental human needs.
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.
Authors: Edward Farrey and Nancy O’Hara
Year of Release: 2000