Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.
Edward Espe Brown is one of my simple heroes, a true kitchen yogi.
In March of last year, he wrote a beautiful piece for Shambhala Sun on the Zen of cooking. Check it out, and find therein a way to really bring mindfulness into every little movement, big and small: the chopping, the cutting, the stirring, the baking.
When I asked Suzuki Roshi for his advice about working in the kitchen, he said, “When you wash the rice, wash the rice. When you cut the carrots, cut the carrots. When you stir the soup, stir the soup.”Seems so simple, right? And yet, not.
Instead of tying yourself down so that nothing volatile arises, use what is vibrant and volatile—feelings—to energize your presence in the kitchen. Invite them to handle, stir, wash, touch, scrub, scour; invite them to see, smell, taste, and delight in the play. Cook’s temperament is a passion for life: give it a field in which to practice—put it to work. If I were to cook only when I was most loving, kind, and benevolent, I would have starved long ago. I am not telling you to act out in the kitchen; my encouragement is to turn afflictive emotions, as well as enthusiasm and exuberance, into something edible and nourishing—food.
So along with mindfulness, washing the rice when you wash the rice is putting more emphasis on concentration, focus, attention, and energy. These actions rather blend together: Prepare food! Make it happen! Wash, cut, cook, taste, savor. Gather yourself, as many disparate parts as you can muster. Zero in on the activity and how to do it easily, effectively, effortlessly (not just going through the motions). Give your attention to observing and perceiving rather than giving out directives and enforcing rules. Let your life force bloom and sparkle. Interact. Study how to use your body to do the work of cooking. ....
Engage in what you are doing. Zen Master Dogen’s advice is to let things come and abide in your heart. Let your heart return and abide in things. All through the day and night. To engage is to meet and connect, and out of that meeting and connecting, to respond. Responding from the heart, your implicit intention is to bring out the best. This is learning to relate with the things of this world and your own body–mind, rather than seeking to hide out in a place where you don’t have to relate with anything. There are recipes to follow in order to get it right and gain approval. There are no recipes for telling you what your heart knows, and precious little workable advice for trusting your heart rather than your head. You choose to do it, and practice finding your way in the dark.
Read the whole thing. Then get your chop on. So good.
Let Your Passion Cook (Shambhala Sun)