Growing up I spent countless hours in commercial kitchens. Both my parents were lunch restaurant managers and after school I would often go to one of their locations. The staff became aunts and uncles in a way. My curiousity could express itself by looking into the drawers and cupbords. One time I remember they were looking for a bottle brush but couldn´t find it. As soon as I heard what they were looking for I went, opened a drawer and there it was. I was so happy to be able to be a part of and helpful. I guess I was about eight at the time.
Over the years I got to learn more and more, helping in more ways. When I was 12 years old my parents started running a conference and banquet center in downtown Stockholm. It was located on the top three levels of the building and there wes off course much to discover. My first job there was to take care of dishwashing after dinner gatherings, sometimes 50 people but often over 100. Off course I got help if needed, but I am amazed at my parents trust and confidence in me. This helped me grow with the occasion and got a perfect flow going. My mother called in many young adults for the different bookings, to serve the food, and they were often reoccuring. A couple of them felt like cousins. It was really a family buisiness.
My dad was a chef and year by year I got to help out more in the kitchen. He would now and then remind me of the middle way. Yes, that smooth easy path between extremes, that helped Siddharta breakthrough and become a Buddha. He told me: “don´t hold the knife to hard or press down too strong, let the knife do the cutting”. During these years I also learnt to train in Zen. In Zen training we talk about the young buffalo following the older buffalo and learning by observing and follwing the example. Most of my dad´s transmission to me happened in this way.
I learned a lot from my mother to during those years when it came to hosting events, organizing many detail, directing many helpers, training and showing the new waiters/waitresses the ropes and standards at their place. What they both were wonderful examples of taking helpful pride in their profession and craft, open to learn and grow. They showed such whole heartedness and endurance. Years later in the Buddhas teachings I found that this is one of the greatest blessings, greatest happiness. What I learned from my parents through the 8 years I lived at home during their 13 year intense commitment to this buisiness and vocation, are lessons in life. These have helped me in countless ways though my years as a monk and now in my service of healing and transformation. Thank you dad! Thank you mom!
What I have had to train and transform is how to have more fun, spend more time and energi in leisure, with hobbies and exploration then my parents transmitted. This might be the topic for another blog. In this adults have a lot to learn from children.
Now back to food! In Buddhist teachings edible food and drink is just one source of nutriment. The others being sense impressions, volition and consciousness. This is a wonderful and practical teaching that help us nourish and grow in the direction we aspire. This was also the theme for a mindfulness retreat I led last fall in Swedish. But you English speaking friends are in luck here, because I have recorded four video teachings on this topic. You can find this playlist at the botton of this blog post.
Last year as I was cooking a meal for a group of friends at our little cottage (kolonistuga) I thought to myself: “it would be fun to make a cooking blog”. Another time when I was cooking a one pot meal, vegan glutenfree, according to my cooking standard: healthy enough, tasty enough and quick enough the idea came back. So the other day when I was preparing a mexican inspired meal, with more dishes then I normally cook, I decided here it starts. The initiative Loving Food was born! You are now about to taste this first feast!
Though the years I have heard many friends having a difficulty transitioning to vegetarian or vegan diet, not knowing what to cook. I have also met many friends who would like to cook more but get stuck in ordering or eating out a lot. Loving food is for you! Because of my Zen training with my parents at work and at home, and off course living in Plum Village and Deer Park, I have learned many things. The flow of preparing a meal comes very natural to me since I have seen it and done it many times in such varying conditions. So I won´t bore you with the details, but I hope to convey a smooth flow that also enables us to cook a middle way meal. Our state of mind while cooking matters, so, when I chose what to cook I consider how much time and energy I have. I don´t cook the healthiest, nor the tasties food you ever had, but I like it and hopefully this can be communicated and transmitted here.
Many more stories, more indepth focus to mindful cooking, more meals will follow in future blog posts!
Here you find my first talk on the Four Nutriments, edible foods, in the Sun of Wisdom playlist:
That´s all for now!
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May you be nourished and well – Warm regards Jem Chan Phap Ho
2 reaktioner till “Loving Food – a new offering”
Beautiful!!! Thanks so much for your sharing in this post!
Dear brother, this is very exciting! Please be sure to cover vegan pickled herring. I miss having it every holiday! 🙂