If I were to open a restaurant, Tigers and Strawberries would be the name I would choose. It is in reference to an old Buddhist koan which goes something like this:
Once, a young monk was sent forth from the monastery to carry a message to another monastery far away. As he walked through the dense forest, he caught glimpses of orange fur in the dappled shade and heard low growls. Surmising that he was being stalked by a tiger, he quickened his steps, but the large cat easily kept pace with him. Fear gnawed at the young monk, and he began to run blindly through the trees, leaving the path he knew in an attempt to outdistance the hungry cat whose panting breath he could feel upon his neck.
The monk lost his way, and to his terror, found himself at the edge of a great precipice. Behind him, he heard the tiger stop, and begin pacing back and forth among the trees, its golden eyes glinting among the leaves. Shaking, the monk looked down and saw that there were vines clambering over the jagged rocks and he determined to try and climb down them. Just as he swung himself over the cliff, and began clambering down the vines which creaked under his weight, he heard the tiger roar, and saw it stare balefully down at him from above.
From below cane an answering roar, and the monk startled and looked down to see a second tiger, pacing along the stones that lined the bottom of the cliff face, waiting for him to descend.
Shuddering, the young monk closed his eyes and clung to the vine, his only means of support. The sound of nibbling teeth caught his attention and he opened his eyes to see a mouse chewing at the vine that held him suspended between the hungry cats.
Next to the mouse, he saw a flash of red.
A wild strawberry grew in a crevice of the stone, and a lone fruit shone invitingly.
The monk reached out, and plucking the crimson fruit, held it to his nose. The sweet fragrance rushed into his nostrils as the last bit of the vine gave way and the monk began to fall. As he plummeted toward the tiger, the monk popped the strawberry in his mouth, and the flavor was the sweetest thing he had ever experienced.
I am inordinately fond of that tale; there is something beautiful in the idea of savoring every small experience given to you in life, even in the face of death, and the idea that life gives us gifts of unexpected sweetness even in the darkest times has given me comfort every time the shadows of sorrow have threatened to overtake me.
In lieu of starting a restaurant, a venture rife with financial and personal risk, I decided to start a blog by the same name instead to chronicle my culinary doings and to give form to many of the ideas that have been fermenting in the back of my brain for years now. Writing is my other passion next to cooking, and it seemed logical to blend the two into a new and interesting presence on the web. Here you will find not only recipes and photographs of the foods that I cook, but also rants, links to articles involving food, essays and book reviews.
My greatest love in the culinary world is Asian food; I have been teaching classes in Asian cookery for years now, with much success. Of the Asian cuisines, I admit that I am most firmly attached to the varied cuisines of China, most particularly the complex flavors of Sichuan province and the clean, pure colors and fragrances of Cantonese cooking. I have tracked down recipes and cookbooks, teachers and tools, ingredients and philosophies inherent to Chinese food for years now, and so will give away these experiences to you in the course of writing this blog.
But it isn’t all about China. You will hear about all of my experiments in the kitchen, whether I am learning how to brew mead or perfecting my ability to make a pie that not only has a flaky crust and tastes phenomenal, but is also beautiful to behold as well. I will document failures as well as successes, and endeavor to tell the whole truth about the good, the bad and the ugly things that go on in my laboratory, my temple, my kitchen.
There will be restaurant reviews and meditations on the sacred nature of food and the psychology of eating. I will talk of history, tell of my cookbook hunting adventures and let you know how my latest classes are going. I hope to entertain as well as inform, and in addition to feeding bodies with good food, I also hope to feed minds and souls as well.
Welcome to my world. I hope you enjoy your stay.
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