cover image 3 Bowls: Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Buddhist Monastery

3 Bowls: Vegetarian Recipes from an American Zen Buddhist Monastery

Seppo Ed Farrey, Edward Farrey, Nancy O'Hara. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $20 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-395-97707-1

Here is a cookbook with an unusual goal--to simultaneously excite the taste buds and calm the mind. The authors succeed on the strength of their sincerity: Farrey is the tenzo (head chef) at Dai Bosatsu Zendo, a Zen Buddhist monastery located in New York's Catskill Mountains, and O'Hara is a meditation group leader. Together, they have pulled together a collection of eclectic vegetarian (and some vegan) recipes that reflect love and respect for good food as well as for the spiritual life. The book's title refers to the traditional way in which meals are served at Zen monasteries--a large bowl of rice, noodles or other grain food serves as the base of the meal, accompanied by a medium bowl of stew or soup and a small bowl of salad or vegetables. The section of rice recipes presents a study in Zen-like contradictions with offerings such as Japanese-inspired Shiitake Rice, Southern-style Spicy Rice Bake with Black-Eyed Peas, Collard Greens and Sweet Potatoes, and Mushroom and Sun-Dried Tomato Risotto. Curries and quinoa often form second bowl recipes, and a selection of salads and dressings fill the third. The book starts with breakfast rice and porridge recipes and ends, of course, with desserts, such as Double-Berry Poached Pears. Interspersed among the recipes are short meditations on work, food and life at the monastery, which are complemented by Asian brush calligraphy illustrations by Eido Tai Shimano Roshi, the monastery's abbot. This is a lovely book for those interested in nourishing body and soul. (June)