Lean Streak Rating: 3 / 5 stars GOOD
How To Cook Your Life, a documentary by Doris Dörrie, follows Edward Espe Brown, a Zen priest and cook, as he teaches students at San Francisco’s Tassajara Mountain Center and Austria’s Scheibbs Buddhist Center to cook and better themselves by developing the right attitude towards food.
Brown likens the mind of the ideal cook to a kind and joyful grandparent who dotes on his / her grand kids and has a nurturing attitude towards them. The documentary also features other Tassajara cooks who say that cooking teaches them to be aware and attentive. The resident bread-maker sites the example of dough that behaves differently at different temperatures. By forcing the cook to be attentive to it’s temperament, in the a way, “the food is cooking us”, the cooks conclude.
The documentary touches upon many principals central to Zen Buddhism such as mindfulness, respect for living creatures, anger-management and acceptance of both good and bad. To the cooks at Tassajara, preparing food is a form of meditation.
While the documentary is inspiring, it can seem preachy at times. Also, none of the philosophies discussed are that novel or radical. But what is extremely interesting is the achievement of self-realization by using food as a vehicle.
The documentary is bound to make people look at our food culture differently. It is also bound to inspire people to express love for their families and friends by cooking them something.
About Edward Espe Brown: Brown is a Zen teacher who lives in Fairfax, California. He was ordained a Zen priest by Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki who named him “Jusan Kainei” or “Longevity Mountain, Peaceful Sea”. Brown conducts meditation retreats and classes throughout the United States and is a co-founder of the Greens Restaurant in San Francisco.
Brown has authored several books including The Tassajara Bread Book which is considered by many to be the Bible of bread-making.
Check out the trailer:
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