“Halé inspires us to see our dinner plate in a new yet ancient light, leading us back to the sensual, healthful relationship with food that is our birthright as human beings.”
— Mollie Katzen, author of Moosewood Cookbook and The Sunlight Café
If the Buddha Came to Dinner by Halé Sofia Schatz (with Shira Shaiman) is a wonderful little book (and resource) for people (like me) who struggle with food. Oh, I don’t struggle eating it, that much is clear by the size of my… appetite. No, my struggle is with the entire concept of what food is supposed to be. I could link a bunch of posts about my fat-this or fat-that or the twenty (or bazillion) diets I’ve tried … but I’ll just leave it to you if you’re interested in reading more about me ‘n’ my ol’ pal Food… we gots a history, me and it. Ugh!
With questions like, “Who are you feeding?” you can bet this book has some deep stuff to offer… and it does. This is not a book you will sit down and read cover-to-cover. It is, instead, a book of stories, questions, healthy advice and recipes.
Who are you feeding? Oh, I know this one! Let me answer! How about… my inner child, who came to equate food with comfort? Or, my pissed-off teenaged-self, who didn’t want anyone telling her what she could-or-could-not have? Or my 60-year-old self who sees food as the ultimate soother for all the world’s ills? Oh yes, I understand how I’ve used food my entire life… not as fuel… but as fodder.
It’s so easy, you know, to eat right. Truly. Just eat when you’re hungry. Just eat real food. No fast food. Nothing from a can, package or plastic. Go along the outside edges of the store… veggies and fruit, meat (if you eat it), some dairy… if I just did this… I could lose a hundred pounds in a year. I have NO doubt! *sigh* So easy. Yet, so difficult. And yes, I’m digressing.
The question in the title is worth exploring: What would you feed the Buddha if he came to dinner? Burger King? A frozen dinner? Canned or processed foods? Not likely, right? You’d find the best, freshest whole foods that you could afford, wouldn’t you? Why not feed yourself the same way?
Nourishment as a physical, emotional and spiritual practice is threaded throughout this book. There’s a very large section (about 50 pages) in Part II about “The Cleanse,” which is subtitled, “A retreat into yourself.” The last third of the book is devoted to recipes.
Food + Health + Spiritual Awareness = Everything you want to be. Everything I want to be.
It’s so easy. So darned easy.
Except, it isn’t. Why not? A lot of things, according to Schatz… take, for example, what she calls, “perpetual feasting” … and think of how celebrations are woven around food. Christmas isn’t Christmas without my Nana’s jello “salad” that has no lettuce or veggies … and boy, is it good!! Mashed potatoes with tons of butter and cream? Gravy? Bread stuffed in the bird? Pumpkin pie? Bring it ON. And no kidding, just the thought of it makes me get a warm feeling inside my tummy… and the holiday season was only a month ago! And see, it’s tied so tightly to emotion. And who doesn’t want to feel good? In turn, we want more of what makes us feel good. And then, we’re in Excess-ville… too much… much-too-much food and too much weight… and onward it goes, year after year.
So, what shall we do, folks?
Maybe we should invite the Buddha to dinner?!