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Tube of delight!

#1 2007-12-05 18:10:14

Musgo da Pedra
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From: South of Brazil
Registered: 2007-12-02
Posts: 332
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Coffee time... Zen food...

I was seated drinking a good cup of coffee and drop thinking: how is the food in a zen monastery? what they eat?

Peace


Omnia mea mecum porto

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#2 2007-12-05 18:26:57

Tairaku 太楽
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From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
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Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Oh man don't get me started! It's so good!

First, no coffee. Green Tea.

They eat vegetarian food, including a lot of root vegetables, tofu, mushrooms etc. At Daitokuji and some of the other temples there are also restaurants which serve the same food and it is astounding. Maybe our resident veggie chef Phil Gelb might chime in with a more detailed description? Phil?


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#3 2007-12-05 18:36:42

Seth
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From: Scarsdale, NY
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 270

Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

James Schlefer and I had lunch at Daitokuji, and, yes, it was awesome.  And for a vegetarian it was pure bliss.

But is that really the daily food for the monks?  I was under the impression that was for the tourists and special events.   Cause if I am wrong, and that is the daily eats, wow, I might end up a monk!

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#4 2007-12-05 18:54:32

Tairaku 太楽
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From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
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Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Seth wrote:

James Schlefer and I had lunch at Daitokuji, and, yes, it was awesome.  And for a vegetarian it was pure bliss.

But is that really the daily food for the monks?  I was under the impression that was for the tourists and special events.   Cause if I am wrong, and that is the daily eats, wow, I might end up a monk!

That's not their DAILY food but it is food that originated in the temples and isn't it amazing? I love that place. They probably only eat one or two dishes in a meal not a full multicourse meal.

Seth if you like vegetarian Zen food there is a great Korean restaurant in NYC called Hangawi which serves the Korean version. It is incredible.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#5 2007-12-05 20:53:14

Rayofwind
Member
From: DFW Texas
Registered: 2007-09-26
Posts: 21

Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Thanks Tauraku
I did not expect to get restaurant advice on the Shakuhachi forum. I will be in New York in Jan., so I will check this out. The reviews sound good.
I lived in Korea for a year and fell in love with the food. I spend alot of time in China town. Ray

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#6 2007-12-06 02:04:05

dstone
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From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: 2006-01-11
Posts: 552
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Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Memories of a couple of years ago.  Brief stay with monks at Sojiji, a Soto Zen monastery in Tsurumi, Yokohama.  Had enough meals to slightly understand and GREATLY appreciate their cuisine.  Just FANTASTIC.  I'm a veggie anyways and a raw/pickled/natural food lover. But can't imagine any mindful person *not* enjoying good Buddhist monastery fare.  So good.  Drooling now.  Tofu, many types of tsukemono (pickles), miso, mushrooms, beans, seaweed.  White rice, of course.

There is a ritualized, formal method of serving, eating, and cleaning up this sort of food.  Those aspects are an inseparable part of the food experience in a monastery.

This is all in my very limited experience but it was a wonderful experience. The professional Buddhists and chefs here can probably tell you much more.

-Darren.

Last edited by dstone (2007-12-06 02:16:12)


When it is rainy, I am in the rain. When it is windy, I am in the wind.  - Mitsuo Aida

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#7 2007-12-06 02:49:43

philipgelb
Chef, musician, teacher
From: Oakland, California
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 135
Website

Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

This kind of food is called Shojin Ryori and as others have mentioned, it is truly delightful! This is the cuisine of Buddhist monasteries (in some countries, people who claim to be Buddhists ignore the part about being vegetarian. In Tibet, well, there was simply no choice at that altitude since very little could be grown).
Undoubtedly Shojin Ryori is up there along with Sichuan, Italian, Thai and other as one of the world's most refined and delightful cuisines!
There are numerous restaurants in Japan, mostly connected to monasteries that serve this cuisine. It is entirely vegan, always seasonally based, using only the highest quality ingredients.  The dishes are as beautiful to look at as they are to taste and feel. Prepare to pay a hefty fee for most shojin restaurants in Japan but it is well worth it!! Each visit to a shojin restaurant in Japan has left me with incredible culinary memories that i could never possibly forget! This is one of the most sensual approaches to food you will ever experience.

With Shojin ryori, every ingredient will always taste like itself, no matter how simply or complex the preparation.
Kaiseki evolved out of Shojin Ryori but of course is not vegetarian

A shojin meal should consist of dishes using all different cooking techniques, frying/grilling, roasting/baking, raw, boiling, steaming. All colors should be on the plate of each meal! And all 6 taste buds, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, hot, delicate will get hit upon through the meal.
a wide variety of cutting techniques should also be employed in every meal.
The results are a variety of textures and flavors that one only needs to eat a small amount of to feel very satisfied.
At the same time, all dishes are prepared with health in mind thus food is seen as preventative medicine!!

The word shojin is composed of 2 kanji, "spirt" and "progress".

For those who are in the San Francisco Bay area, there is a great shojin restaurant in Berkeley called Chaya. Very small and surprisingly inexpensive restaurant that is one of my favorites in the area. I am not aware of others in the US but i would imagine there would be one in LA and NYC. Brian mentioned Hungawi in Manhattan which is a Korean vegetarian restaurant, also the monastic style of cuisine and also truly exceptional. Apparently there is a new Korean place like this in LA that i will be checking out when i am on tour and in that area in February.

For those in the San Francisco area, there is also an underground restaurant, very private and very intimate, only open once or twice a month that sometimes serves shojin ryori (usually the focus in on fusion with some influence from shojin) and at times some serious shakuhachi players such as Yoshio Kurahashi, Riley Lee, Kaoru Kakizakai or other great musicians like Roscoe Mitchell, Joelle Leandre or Pauline Oliveros are performing. smile

if there was a way to post photos on here (is there?) i would upload some photos of recent dishes such as pecan crusted  adzuki tempeh with spiced apricot sauce (served at Kaoru's performance) or pumpkin miso soup with maitake mushrooms and snow peas (served at a recent performance by Pauline), homemade tofu blood orange salad with blood orange dressing (coming up again in january when the blood oranges come into season) or lotus roots stuffed with silken tofu, walnuts and umeboshi.

There are a couple of books in English that are still in print about shojin ryori. One is written by a Buddhist nun who was the chef at her monastery and is called "The Heart of Zen Cuisine" and it has an incredible amount of information and recipes, some easy (choshi recipes) and some on the level of Renpoken Tsuru No Sugumori
another one is called Healthy remedies from a Japanese kitchen (Terrible title but good recipes). Another is called "the enlightened kitchen". There was one called "shojin" but it has been out of print for years and i have never been able to find a copy.
And of course, Dogen wrote a book about cooking that is quite interesting though he did not leave us any recipes. I believe he says in this book, "flavor comes from the heart"...

The ideas of shojin ryori were highly watered down and made into a rather bland approach to food, brought to the west and is known as macrobiotics. For some reason most macrobiotic chefs and practitioners forget that food should taste, look and feel wonderful as well as be healthy.

I am happy to share recipes if anyone is interested.

phil


Philip Gelb
shakuhachi player, teacher & vegetarian chef
Oakland, CA
http://philipgelb.com  http://myspace.com/philipgelb, http://myspace.com/inthemoodforfood

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#8 2007-12-06 06:04:04

Priapus Le Zen M☮nk
Historical Zen Mod
From: St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
Registered: 2006-04-25
Posts: 612
Website

Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Well here I my take on temple food.


Yes Shojin ryori/Kaiseki type of serving is great stuff but from all the stuff I hate I would not expect living on that stuff on a 365 days schedule and to my eyes it is more of a very special Japanese type of gourmet food.

As Tairaku mentioned this is not the daily food you get when you are in a temple. Basically from my experience there is 2 types of temple food the stuff that they will feed to Unsui or to people that are there for a Sesshin or the real daily life food. The Unsui type of food will be served in the Oryoki fashion following either the Soto or Rinzai tradition of ritualization

Unsui food SUCKS! It’s basically a bowl of brown or white rice gruel with a bit of sesame seed and some pickles 3 or 2 times a day depending on the temple. Bear in mind this is training food and for me training euqates to life minus the fun so that you can experience your life at its most basic level of activity and this all in silence except for sutra chanting or Koan training. Don’t expect being strong or really full of energy on that crap not at 190cm Tall and 240 pounds!

Now when it comes to daily Zen temple food if you live at a temple where the Tenzo is a hard core Vegetarian you will get some great wholesome food that will give you lots of energy to work all day long cleaning the temple working in the fields etc.. This type of food is a whole different ball game. Lots of brown rice, vegetables stews with tofu and konnyaku and all kinds of pickles BUT STILL expect the stuff to be very good but not very tasty.

In comparison I would have to say that Chinese temple food is far tastier for many reasons and also Korean temple food as well.


Sebastien 義真 Cyr
春風館道場 Shunpukan Dojo
St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
http://www.myspace.com/shunpukandojo

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#9 2007-12-06 06:48:23

Musgo da Pedra
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From: South of Brazil
Registered: 2007-12-02
Posts: 332
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Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Hello... 
 
I know that what I'll wrote doesn't have to do with the main topic, but having in mind that a lot of people here seems to be vegetarian (I'm too) lets tell for those who eat meat that IF they buy imported meat, please take care to NOT BUY meat from this places from Brasil : Acre(AC), Amapá(AP) , Amazonas(AM), Pará(PA), Rondônia(RO), Roraima(RR), Tocantins(TO), Maranhão(MA) and Mato Grosso(MT). 

They are puting down the biggest forest in the world to sell the wood and then use the land to leave cattle for slaughter that will be fattened, abated and exported for every corner of the earth... If you do not care, what to do? It's a critical and sad situation on that forest... It's disappearing...


Omnia mea mecum porto

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#10 2007-12-06 11:53:28

Elliot K
Member
From: Santa Rosa, CA
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 132
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Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Phil's post is right on the money regarding Shojin Ryori, and Gishin is also correct that this is NOT the same food that monks actually get on a daily basis  - way too much prep and bother for them lowly monks wink For a look at some examples of Shojin Ryori I've put up a page featuring a few of Kyoto's more well-known venues. Go to: http://www.tweakshop.com/Shojin%20Ryori.html
(Big files - be patient) Included are Izusen (the restaurant within Daiji-in in the Daitoku-ji complex), Daitoku-ji Ikkyu-an (right outside the eastern entrance to Daitoku-ji), Ikkyu-an Kikkyou (the branch of Ikkyu-an in southeast Kyoto by the entrance to Chishaku-in- they also have non-vegetarian entrees), and the Yudofuya (tofu restaurant) at Ryoan-ji.
BTW, upon request, Kaiseki meals can also be done completely Vegan (we had magnificent meals at a ryokan we stayed at), but these are very pricey. The most reasonably priced meal was at Ikkyu-an Kikkyou where my konnyaku-based meal was about $16 (and very tasty!). But Izusen was our favorite.

Elliot

(Phil's food is, of course, in a class by itself.)

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#11 2007-12-06 19:23:28

philipgelb
Chef, musician, teacher
From: Oakland, California
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 135
Website

Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

thanks to Elliot Kallen and his recent trip to Japan and his kind generous nature, i am sitting with a box of the VERY rare Ikkyu Natto. Now i can just picture Karl Young and others cringe at the mere thought of natto and Kiku and others ears and tastebuds perking up at the mention of natto smile

This Ikkyu natto is way beyond your every day delightful natto. It is some serious skunky stuff that reminds me of the original hatcho miso and is also coal black like that kind of miso.

Hopefully next week i will be succesful in harvesting some of the natto bacteria from this box and growing it and developing a new California strain of natto which i would like to call Ikkyu Kallen natto. Perhaps Elliot can then get a reputation as Elliot Nattoseed..... first let us see if i can manage to harvest some of the bacteria from this natto.

shakuhachi and natto. Well, never eat natto just before you play shakuhachi. I made that mistake once. damn, what a mess i made of myself and the mouthpiece...

natto is like avant garde music. Some people simply cannot approach it (smile)

a serious public thank you to Elliot for this most unique and delightful Hanukah present!!


Philip Gelb
shakuhachi player, teacher & vegetarian chef
Oakland, CA
http://philipgelb.com  http://myspace.com/philipgelb, http://myspace.com/inthemoodforfood

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#12 2007-12-07 02:12:26

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
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Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Sign me up for some of that natto! I eat it at least twice a week.


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

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#13 2007-12-07 03:19:13

Kiku Day
Shakuhachi player, teacher and ethnomusicologist
From: London, UK & Nørre Snede, DK
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 922
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Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Phil,

I am sure that Californian Ikkyu Kallen natto will be absolutely delicious! Can we make a deal where you send it once every two weeks to Europe? smile

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! I have to get a towel to wipe my mouth water away!

Kiku


I am a hole in a flute
that the Christ's breath moves through
listen to this music
Hafiz

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#14 2007-12-07 13:50:42

dstone
Member
From: Vancouver, Canada
Registered: 2006-01-11
Posts: 552
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Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Oh man, I LOVE the natto.  So satisfying.  I was living on it in Japan for the past month.  Well, one good serving of it daily, anyways.  Two on my birthday.  All varieties, including the skunky black stuff.  I swear I'll go into rotten soybean withdrawal now...

Another of the Canadians on the trip (Jim) used to make his own natto so he and you (Phil) have now inspired me to possibly try my own hand at it.

Yours in foul-smelling sticky strings,
-Darren.


When it is rainy, I am in the rain. When it is windy, I am in the wind.  - Mitsuo Aida

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#15 2007-12-07 22:44:32

chikuzen
Dai Shihan/Dokyoku
From: Cleveland Heights,OH 44118
Registered: 2005-10-24
Posts: 402
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Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

I guess I'll have to take another trip to CA to find someone to eat natto with. It isn't going over to big here in the midwest!  Better yet, maybe a natto tour of Japan would be a chance to meet other interesting slimy people from the forum.


Michael Chikuzen Gould

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#16 2007-12-08 10:18:53

philipgelb
Chef, musician, teacher
From: Oakland, California
Registered: 2005-10-08
Posts: 135
Website

Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

a natto tour of Japan. Love that idea, Michael!! Let us go around the country finding the various methods of natto making and sampling many different styles.
let us tag this along with a sake tour
maybe even do a concert along the way smile


Philip Gelb
shakuhachi player, teacher & vegetarian chef
Oakland, CA
http://philipgelb.com  http://myspace.com/philipgelb, http://myspace.com/inthemoodforfood

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#17 2007-12-18 11:35:27

Elliot K
Member
From: Santa Rosa, CA
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 132
Website

Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Since the discussion seems to have swerved back to "the joys of natto" again, and I've had a couple of questions about Daitokuji Natto, I figured I should take this opportunity to clarify something.

http://www.tweakshop.com/img/natto1.jpg

Here's what we're talking about: The stuff on the top right is your regular, garden-variety natto. Brown, viscous, stringy, and pretty darn stinky. Folks either love it or run the other way when it's within a block of their nose. Personally, I like it but, as they say, "Beautiful tastes are in the taste-buds of the be-taster", or something like that...
The black stuff on top of the orange natsume lid is Daitokuji Natto as made by the Isoda family in Kyoto (whose shop is directly across the street from Daitokuji's main entrance gate). Despite a surface resemblance to deer pellets, it's actually very easy to tell the two apart - Daitokuji Natto reeks even more than fresh deer pellets. It's also insanely delicious, but in a completely different way than regular natto. The first thing you taste is the intense saltiness (making it the perfect complement to beer - are you listening Horst?), the next thing that hits the palette is the deep, almost smoky flavor of soy, but with a richness and depth far beyond regular natto. A little goes a LONG way (though I know a certain someone who managed to scarf down an entire box in one sitting). Think of truffles.
The Isoda family writes:
"The recipe for Daitokuji Tsubunatto was bequeathed to our ancestor by the great Zen monk Ikkyu ... Originally the method for making this soybean product came from China ... and the natto was held in the highest esteem here as "Chinese natto" (karanatto). This recipe has been passed from generation to generation in our family for over five centuries."
In her classic guide, "Old Kyoto", Diane Durston writes about the process:
"... an old-style cookstove is used to boil dried soybeans in water in a giant cast-iron vat for five or six hours and then left to cool overnight; the beans are then drained and rolled in barley flour in wooden flats where they are kept for five or six days until a fuzzy white mold forms, indicating that the fermentation process has begun; next, they are placed in large round wooden buckets and stirred with salt water (the stirring is repeated off and on for an additional five or six days). From here the beans are placed outside in the direct sunlight in the courtyard at the rear of the Isoda home. They are left to ferment and dry for one to two months, stirred several times a day until they separate into individual beans again (the viscous consistency gone) and are judged to be the proper color and texture to be packaged. Because warm weather and natural sunlight are required, Daitokuji Natto can only be made during the summer months, most often in August after the rainy season has let up. The entire process is regulated by experience, rather than timers and gauges. There are no temperature controls or humidity regulators, and the not infrequent Kyoto summer thunderstorms keep the Isodas running around with umbrella-shaped tin lids to keep this year's batch dry. They produce enough in a few months to last all year, though they have been known to sell out by July of the following year if regular customers let their addiction get the best of them."
Daitkuji Natto is also a favorite of tea practitioners, and it's said that Sen no Rikyu himself was a fan. The Isodas also incorporate their natto into tea treats (higashi) for this use (the plate in front has two of them - the ones shaped like roof tiles with the Daitokuji logo stamped on the ends. An even subtler version of this is the tiny sweet behind them. This gem comes from a Kyoto confectionery called Shioyoshi-ken, just south of the famous Nishijin textile district).

http://www.tweakshop.com/img/natto2.jpg

Daitokuji Natto is also available from Zuiho-in, one of the few Daitokuji sub-temples that's normally open to the public (that's their packaging on the left). The Isoda's presentation is a bit more commercial, featuring the nice graphics and wooden box you see on the right.

Hoping my first photo postings work,

Elliot

Last edited by Elliot K (2007-12-18 11:46:39)

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#18 2007-12-18 11:46:29

Priapus Le Zen M☮nk
Historical Zen Mod
From: St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
Registered: 2006-04-25
Posts: 612
Website

Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Thanks for the great info on the world of tasty healthy stinkyness!

Lots of historical stuff I was not aware of in there.


Sebastien 義真 Cyr
春風館道場 Shunpukan Dojo
St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
http://www.myspace.com/shunpukandojo

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#19 2007-12-18 12:33:13

rpowers
Member
From: San Francisco
Registered: 2005-10-09
Posts: 285

Re: Coffee time... Zen food...

Elliot K wrote:

Daitokuji Natto reeks even more than fresh deer pellets. It's also insanely delicious, but in a completely different way than regular natto. The first thing you taste is the intense saltiness (making it the perfect complement to beer - are you listening Horst?)

Wow--If natto faces of with sauerkraut, does anyone win?


"Shut up 'n' play . . . " -- Frank Zappa
"Gonna blow some . . ." -- Junior Walker
"It's not the flute." -- Riley Lee

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