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25 December, 2012

k-cooking

On December 17th Kakuho Aoe, author of Discover 21's latest cookbook Simply Zen: Vegetarian Cooking to Satisfy the Soul held a vegetarian tasting party at the Khaosan Tokyo Kabuki Guest House in Tokyo's historic Asakusa district.

Aoe is the head priest at the Ryokusen-ji Temple and is also a "ryori-zo"  – a zen monastery chef – a status he uses to help spread the teachings of Buddhism to others through food. In his first ever book, Simply Zen, he introduces vegetarian recipes for dishes traditionally eaten by monks, adapted so they can easily be made in the home. 
 
The tasting party  was planned by the author himself, hoping to bring Buddhist cooking to visitors from around the world. The global party included participants hailing from the U.S., U.K., Norway, and countries around Asia, all of whom enjoyed their first taste of Aoe's vegetarian cuisine. Participants ' comments indluded "This is the first time I've had Buddhist food before, but it's really good!" and "I definitely want to eat these dishes again after I've gone home."

Aoe, fluent in English after earning his MBA in the United States, explained that "While Buddhism is practiced around the world, there is no form of Buddhism whose dietary restrictions are as strict as Japanese Buddhism. All the food served tonight contains no meat, fish, onions or garlic. But despite these restrictions, there is no vegetarian cooking in the world as delicious as Japanese Buddhist dishes - it's the ultimate form of vegetarian cuisine."

guests

party

Aoe later went on to explain how foreign visitors to Japan living under religious or philosophical dietary restrictions have great difficulties finding places to eat, and that a the need for a "Buddhist-Vegetarian Restaurant" is perhaps higher than ever before. 
 
With more Simply Zen events in the mix for the future, Aoe is sure to bring this delicious cuisine to even broader audience than before. 

His interview video clip is available on YouTube with English subtitles.

 

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