The Feng Shui Cookbook
Chinese philosophy holds that life force, or qi, comes from breath and food.
I recently came across a very special book called The Feng Shui Cookbook: Creating Health and Harmony in Your Kitchen by Elizabeth Miles. Although this book is small and easy to overlook it is a very different breed than the glossy-food-porn-coffee-table cookbooks that we see so much of these days. Elizabeth Miles has done an incredible job of condensing a layered and vast amount of information and experience into a very handy and practical guide to conscious cooking.
I have heard about Feng shui for years but never really looked too deep into it, so reading this cookbook has been very eye-opening for me, she gives a very good description:
Feng shui is the ecology of flow, the architecture of energy. Based on the idea that good fortune results when people live in balance with their environments and their inner natures, feng shui has been praised as an environmentally sound practice that emphasizes respecting rather than tampering with nature. Today, this ancient and intuitive idea is so forgotten as to seem revolutionary. -p4, 5
Feng shui seems basically above and beyond the modern day sustainable living concept. When we take into consideration the influence of yin and yang on our agriculture and food, we begin to understand that the cycles of nature are not black and white.
The life essence that results from the balance of yin and yang is qi, which animates all things to link humankind and nature, spirit and substance, mind and body. -6
Feng shui further balances this understanding by bringing in the Five Elements: Wood, Fire, Earth, Water and Metal. Understanding the various properties of these elements and their interplay also helps us to understand the influences that the color, flavor and method of preparation has on a meal. In this way it can be used to create a balance that is best for each individual and their circumstance.
You’ll learn how to eat for wisdom, honesty, conviction, motivation, and forgiveness…and to strengthen, nourish , stimulate, concentrate, or cleanse your qi. You’ll even discover how food can help you express joy, grief, anger, fear, and wonder. The Feng Shui Cookbook opens the door to an adventure in the ancient art and science of eating that can feed your essential energy for better health, greater prosperity, and a fresh view of pleasure at the table. -p4
I don’t know of too many cookbooks that make these sorts of promises about the recipes within them! We get a lot of calorie counting books with all kinds of strange restrictions for weight loss, but don’t often hear about how to feed yourself to help make decisions or to relax and cool down on a hot summer day.
This is exactly the sort of cooking that we need to be doing today, with an open heart that touches the essence of the moment. After working for 17 years in professional kitchens around the world it has been sad to see how much this is missing in our industrial and commercial food systems. Often commercial kitchens are unhappy places, with petty competition and chefs on drugs because of working too many hours a day. It is no surprise that people living on food prepared in this manner are paranoid and irritable, a point which is made very well in my favorite quote from the Shaker Manifesto entitled Kitchen Education.
The deep respect and appreciation that our ancestor’s had for food is a vital energetic link, connecting us to our environment. This must be nurtured and savored once again if humanity is to remain a part of this world.
The Feng Shui Cookbook is a great reference to have on hand when learning how to understand this unseen dimension of nourishing body and soul for yourself and your family. Highly recommended.