Reading has always been one of my loves. Surprising to me is that the list of good books I think have been the most important in my life, changes over time. Not only because a new book has usurped an old favorite, but because a book I read many years ago and may not have thought of as life-changing or "good" (in the Great American novel sort of way), gets on the list. With the perspective of time, my understanding of a book changes and I realize the important positive impact of that particular book.
The Tassajara Bread Book (pub. in 1970) is this kind of book. When we were young teenagers my sister, Alisa Acosta, and I taught ourselves how to bake from this book. Alisa focused on popovers and other such things. I delved into bread making. Edward Espe Brown's detailed, concise directions coupled with his intellectual and spiritual generosity resulted in a book that touched so many people that it became a international bestseller.
I long ago lost my copy of that cookbook and had mostly forgotten about it in a everyday way until I saw the Indie film, How To Cook Your Life, with zen chef Edward Espe Brown, author of The Tassajara Bread Book and other books. Ed Brown (that's how he was introduced) made a guest appearance last night (April 1, 2008) at the Tower Theater in Bend, Oregon. The film, How To Cook Your Life, was shown as part of the Bend Film Festival Indie Reels screenings.
Ed Brown introduced the film, then when it was over, he answered questions from the audience and told stories. His sense of humor coupled with his wisdom had us laughing and enlightened within minutes. He was a lot of fun. I had hoped to thank him for his work in person, but the receiving line was more than I was willing to wade through.
The Tassajara Bread Book inspired and opened me to my love of cooking, and by extension life. Creating food with my hands puts me in touch with the land and elements that combine to create that food. A loaf of live dough ready for the oven embodies the cycle of life. Edward Espe Brown's writings planted the seeds of spirituality, environmental sensitivity, and a life-long love of food. His cookbook is not only a artistic inspiration, it is a political inspiration. The Tassajara Bread Book gently put me on a path that made the connection between the spiritual and practical accessible.
I highly recommend watching How to Cook Your Life. It will be available on Netflicks in May 2008.
Edward Espe Brown's writing inspired my artisan bread baking hobby. I now focus on a natural yeast starter that absorbs the life in the air around us. Read my artisan bread recipe on my website.
Thanks Judy Shasek for inviting me to see this movie. Judy is a creative powerhouse. Among her projects is Generation Fit, an innovative learning/wellness outreach program for kids.
Note: Photo of Edward Espe Brown is from the PeacefulSeaSangha.com site. More info is also available on the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center page.