Friday, June 25, 2010

how to cook your life

today i got vaccinated for yellow fever, hepatitis a, typhoid and polio (wtf!) in preparation for studying abroad in africa. i talked to the doctor (who specializes in disease prevention) about what there will be for me to eat as a vegan in ghana that wont err have me living in the bathroom for the entire four months that i will be there. he told be that the prominent cause of sickness over there and reason for such intense disease prevention (ie why i feel like i have two dead arms right now) is the poor quality of drinking water in third world countries. at first this was a hard concept for me to grasp as i have been spoiled by nyc tap water all my life

he informed me that i must avoid all fruits and vegetables that don't have a skin you can peel off (although if i bring a vegetable peeler and wash n peel veggies like carrots myself, they should be fine to eat) pretty much anything raw, and especially no food from street carts.
my dreams of stopping by the fruit lady, balancing an array of tropical treats on her head as i walked to class were destroyed.
"if all the fruits and vegetables are tainted, then what CAN i eat without getting sick" i asked him. you can eat what ever you want as long as it is boiled. raw fruits and vegetables have unsteral water all over them, and that is what will make you sick. and die. (he didn't actually say that last part) so, no foraging my way through the tropics, but at least i wont have to eat goat's blood and cornmeal, or whatever.

after walking home in the sweltering heat, feeling as if i had just got beat up, i collapsed on my bed and watched and unexpectedly amazing documentary called how to cook your life.

German filmmaker Doris Dörrie documents a summer in the life of renowned Zen practitioner and cook Edward Espe Brown as he teaches culinary classes in Zen centers in Austria and California, revealing the role food plays in our bodies and spirits. Informative, provocative and funny, Brown serves up a unique combination of inspiring wisdom and kitchen skills that will raise even the most demanding foodie to new spiritual and gastronomic heights. (via netflix)

it was really so inspiring. Edward Espe Brown seems like such a cool dude. at one point he quotes his guru, suzukie roshi, by saying, "when you're cooking, your not just working on food. you're also working on yourself. you're working on other people." i know this sounds really crazy, hippy-dippy but its so true. it actually gives us health and vitality to make things by hand (and then we give it away) where as buying fake, overly processed stuff without thinking about it harms yourself (lack of nutrition, satisfaction etc...) and the environment (excess packaging, production pollution, waste...) the overlying message that resonated with me is that the outcome of our life is in our own hands! in addition to inspirational, i found it to be pretty this one crazy forager lady who walks around her neighborhood with a big bowl and picks shit out of peoples backyards and dumpsters! definitely recommend it!

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