Zen and the Art of Bread-Making

“The food will taste better when the cook is joyful” pretty much sums up the Buddhist philosophy explored in the new film How to Cook Your Life. The quote comes from Edward Espe Brown, a California Zen teacher, one of the founders of Greens Restaurant in San Francisco, and author of “bread bible” The Tassajara Bread Book. In How to Cook Your Life, filmmaker Doris Dörrie follows Brown’s attempts to adhere to one of his Zen master’s admonitions: “When you wash the rice, wash the rice; when you cut the carrots, cut the carrots; when you stir the soup, stir the soup.” Mindful eating, Brown tells us, will banish anxiety from the kitchen.

How to Cook Your Life also explores Slow Food-esque issues of food origin—including, says Erin Nichols of the Well Fed Network, a “hauntingly honest description” of a boy butchering chickens that made her question whether she should be eating chicken at all. The little film has been getting good press. Amy Sherman, at the Epi-Log, says it links “the social, moral, environmental and political sides to food with the more spiritual and emotional sides.” “If cooking means more to you than just putting a plate on the table,” says Sherman, “I think you’ll like it too.”

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