View Full Version : The art of vegetables - Zen vegan cuisine

Feb 1st, 2005, 01:16 PM
This is from The Financial Times.

The art of vegetables

By Kimiko Barber, January 29 2005, news.ft.com (http://news.ft.com/cms/s/a1241c62-711f-11d9-a5d6-00000e2511c8.html)

Ifirst encountered shojin ryori, or Zen vegan cuisine, in Kyoto when I was five years old at the funeral of my great uncle. It was a scary experience. Vegetables were served cold in minute portions at the end of a long sutra chant. I wondered which was more dispiriting, the food in front of me or the long Buddhist prayer we'd just endured. I also feared that it would look disrespectful to the deceased if I left anything.

These were the grim childhood memories of funeral food I took with me to Toshio Tanahashi's shojin ryori restaurant, Gesshinkyo, in Tokyo. I slid open the wooden front door to be greeted by Toshio and his young woman assistant, Megumi. Both knelt on the tatami mat floor of the entrance hall. An arrangement of Japanese maple branch adorned a small display alcove next to the entrance hall. The atmosphere was one of utter serenity. It felt more like a home of a wise old friend than a restaurant.

I wanted to understand why the Japanese are so healthy. The nation has the world's longest life expectancy of just over 81 for both men and women. Japan also has a low incidence of cardiac related disease compared with other wealthy industrialised countries. There is no child obesity and, apart from the odd sumo wrestler, overweight adults are nowhere to be seen. What is their secret?

In the late 12th century, six centuries after Buddhism first came to Japan, the austere Zen sect arrived from China, bringing with it the strict vegan cooking of shojin ryori. Shojin refers to the Buddhist training to attain purity of body and spirit, and is written as "advancement of the spirit". Zen became popular among the ruling samurai class, perhaps because of its austerity and frugality. However, pragmatic samurai never adopted shojin ryori and continued to eat fish and game such as venison, pheasant and wild boar. Shojin ryori remained within the confines of Zen temples.

The full article is just THERE. (http://news.ft.com/cms/s/a1241c62-711f-11d9-a5d6-00000e2511c8.html)

Feb 1st, 2005, 01:41 PM
that's a really amazing article, gert, thanks very much :D