The Vinegar Tasters
This site is inspired by the well-known allegorical painting depicting the Three Teachings of ancient China.
“The Vinegar Tasters” shows three elderly sages gathered around a barrel of vinegar, each dipping a gnarled finger to sample the fermenting brew. At the far left, the first sage (Confucius) wears a sour look, as if finding the vinegar is not up to his standards. The second master (Buddha) has a pained expression, like one who has found the liquid bitter and unpleasant. The last man (Lao-tzu, author of “Tao Te Ching”) is smiling happily; the vinegar is exactly what he expected.
With all due apologies to the Three Great Teachers, this site draws on similarities between the attitudes of the Three Teachings and modern perspectives (i.e., “Tastes”) on cooking.
In the painting, the vinegar barrel represents the experience of human life on this earth; on this site, it stands for the the specific experience of cooking.
The “Confucian Taste" may be seen as regimented and exacting, following closely to recipes, and often employing elaborate presentations and flourishes.
Those of the “Buddhist Taste" may find cooking a chore -- something to be endured or even transcended (i.e., not cooking at all).
The “Taoist Taste," however, recognizes that cooking – like Life – is something to be accepted, enjoyed and appreciated for its own sake.
Here we will explore together what it might mean to embody the Taoist Taste in our kitchens. We will visit local markets; find inspiration in the Tao, "The Way of Cooking," and from each other; and learn about techniques, ingredients, and discoveries in food science that will make every moment in our kitchens a joyful one with The Way.
Welcome to the journey!.
What else is going on
...three moves and six years later, we have found ourselves in a part of the U.S. that was settled by German immigrants — an area in which T. might finally find an antique cabbage shredder. For over a year, we scoured antique shops and flea markets in search of a functional shredder. Many of the antique shredders we saw were rendered unusable by paint, glue, or other decorative touches. He finally found one that was merely rusty, as well as a wooden tamper for pressing the cabbage in the crock. After disassembling the whole shredder, removing all the rust, sharpening the blades, and cleaning and finishing the wood with a food-grade oil, he was ready for his first batch of Sauerkraut. Read More
A neighbor’s lucky day fly-fishing “nets” us a special treat: four gorgeous rainbow trout just 3 hours out of the water from a nearby pond. Sliced almonds sauteed in a quick butter sauce turned this unexpected bounty into a gourmet meal in no time. Read More
In addition to candied (grapefruit) peel, this khoresh has another citrus ingredient — one that is unique to the cuisine of Persia and the areas around it. It is whole dried lime, also called loomi, black lime, or limu omani. You may find loomi in Middle Eastern groceries, especially if the grocery serves a Persian community, and sometimes in well-stocked Indian groceries as some recipes from the Parsi communities in the north call for dried limes. Read More
Behold Son of George, the rye sourdough starter — smaller, milder and studded with golden and dark raisins, but no less chewy and perfect for snacking, slathered in butter or not: the Raisin Rye Loaf. Read More
These oatmeal cookies have one-third less sugar than most oatmeal recipes, but you miss none of it because of all the dried fruit. I opted for a super antioxidant blend of blueberries, tart cherries, wolfberries, and cranberries for their colors, sweetness and heart-protective properties. In honor of V-Day, we went for the heart shape — what better way to say they come from our hearts, too! Even without the extra bling of dark chocolate drizzle, these cookies will satisfy any sweet tooth. Leave any guilt at the door! Read More
For me, the anticipation of breaking the surface of chawan mushi is very much akin to that delightful moment just as your spoon cracks the glass of burnt sugar crowning a creme brulee. Despite the great anticipation, you almost see your spoon go into slow motion as it nears the egg surface. Then the spoon is under, and a rush of clear sweet dashi broth fills the gash. Your spoon returns with a piece of treasure: will it be a boozy piece of chicken, a shrimp butterfly, or a ginko nut? Read More
Save your knives, you won't need them — these ribs emerge fork-tender and oh-so-succulent in their own juices. And rich, very rich. A little goes a long way. Read More
... But this lovely yeast bread is a nice change of pace for toast, French toast, and even sandwiches. It is moist, chewy, soft and mildly banana-— the banana flavor is noticeable but subtle. And the bread is really not sweet — other than a couple tablespoonsful of molasses or raw sugar, the only sweetness comes from the fruit itself. Read More