This site is inspired by a well-known Chinese allegorical painting depicting the Three Teachings of ancient China. “The Vinegar Tasters” shows three aged 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 concoction 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; he finds the vinegar to be 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 suffered and overcome, or even transcended (i.e., not cooking at all). The “Taoist Taste," however, recognizes that cooking – like Life – is something to be 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.