Let's start with a short video from one of the most famous French Chefs of the modern age, Joel Robechon.
So there you have it a little insight from the Western food culture, now lets have a look at the Asian perspective, the true heartbeat of ancient philosophies.
Jeong Kwan, The Philosopher Chef
Back in 2015, the world was introduced to Jeong Kwan and the intricate, yet humble, art of Korean temple cuisine first through an extensive profile in the New York Times (where journalist Jeff Gordiner gave the nun the ‘philosopher chef’ moniker) followed by an appearance in the second season of Netflix’s Chef’s Table. In the span of 50 minutes, viewers were immersed in the gentle ebbs and flows of life at Chunjinam hermitage in Jeolla province, south of South Korea, learning the ways in which Jeong Kwan and her community regard and respect ingredients and cooking.
“Food is never just food—it is made with plants using sunshine, wind, and water, which means all ingredients are a part of nature. So are humans, as we share the air and space with everyone and everything else. We must learn to respect nature as a way to reciprocate and appreciate with gratitude. It is our duty to take greed out of our intentions and take what we need and waste less.”
"I would not consider myself a good cook or not, but I do enjoy making a good difference to people who eat my food. Hopefully they will get something out of my good intentions. We use ingredients in cooking, and in the process of preparing food, we develop the connection with our ingredients. The consumption of food is broken down into contributing to building our minds, which in return will facilitate the growing of more ingredients. It is the basic cycle of life, intertwining between us and our food, and rather similar to ‘you are what you eat’, even in a spiritual way.”
“Jeong Kwan seunim uses her hands a lot when she cooks. So does Myojin seunim, the other nun at the hermitage, who also has an ease in the kitchen,” she writes. “This is a very Korean way to cook. We use our hands to feel closer to the food. When cooking, Jeong Kwan seunim even uses her fingers to scoop up whatever is in the pot with her fingers and place a sizeable amount in her mouth to taste and check the seasoning.”
The nuns believe that all of their energy comes from their hands, and that when cooking, you pass your energy from them to the food, positive or negative—it’s what gives food flavour.
“In order to be happy in this world, one must view things in the simplest ways, or as things are without too much complications. By doing so we are sending good vibes to our surroundings, and more importantly, to our ingredients that when combined with good intentions, become good food that not only nurture others, but also to ourselves. It is as much food for the body as it is food for the mind. Everyone in the world is entitled to this.”
Okay, back to the French. This guy was not a Chef, but wrote reams of work on gastronomy.
A celebrated aphorism of Curnonsky's was:
La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le goût de ce qu'elles sont.Good cooking is when things taste of what they are.
He advocated simple food over complicated, rustic over refined, and often repeated the phrase
Et surtout, faites simple!And above all, keep it simple!
which was probably due to Escoffier, one of the most celebrated French Chefs in modern history. He was the guy that really got things ORGANIZED!
At the end of the day, I believe that all these individuals had an excellent view of food culture, which seemingly has been lost as of lately. I would say that over the last 5 decades there has been a rapid decline in the connection we have to Mother Earth. Time to get back to the garden folks. Cheers, and have a great week!