What will the next meal be, maybe something Chinese? We’re sitting on a coach, travelling with a dozen Chinese monks in their brown robes and several lay members from Longquan temple in Beijing. The opening ceremony for the new Chinese Longquan Great Compassion temple in Utrecht took place yesterday to a lot of colourful fan-fare (even the Mayor was there!) and now some of them want to visit our small temple, Zen River, in Uithuizen. How this ever came to be mystifies us both, and probably will for the foreseeable future.
The monks follow the vinaya, are vegetarian and avoid onions, garlic and eggs. At the luncheon following yesterdays ceremony the dishes served were mostly vegetables, with some tofu and soy slices making scattered appearances. The sauces all had deep undertones of soy sauce and msg – just enough to bring out the delicate flavour of the vegetables without making one incredibly thirsty afterwards. Mushrooms appeared everywhere in all shapes and sizes (I loved the thin slices of huge King oyster mushrooms [or were they porcini?] that were so chewy they had to be downed in one!). But the Brussels sprouts with roasted macadamia nuts were most surprising. I hope we can surprise them with our food too! Bread and Cheese? We’ll see.
Tomorrow we are going to serve them rice porridge and stewed, spiced apples for breakfast; the rice porridge will be familiar, but to eat hot apples for breakfast, I’m not sure? I reckon they might enjoy black bean chilli for lunch, but the condiments could be confusing. What to do with the salsa and sour cream, coriander and cheese? For supper, spaghetti with mushrooms would be nice as there was a lot of noodles in the restaurant and a remarkable absence of white rice. Maybe followed by miso soup? Thinking, thinking, thinking.
The monks and lay members are following the daily schedule, sitting zazen with everyone, doing service, eating oryoki and attending classes on meditation with Tenkei Roshi, who plans to enlighten them on the Zen River style of meditation. Luckily, they will also join the samu, so most of the prep can be prepared in the early morning with a small team of cutters! Keep fingers crossed…