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Thursday, June 30, 2011


Food is one of the first casualties of our hectic pace of life - in the way we eat it as well as in the way we prepare it. The Cake the Buddha Ate – More Quiet Food by Chrisi van Loon, Louis van Loon, Daniel Jardim, Angela Shaw, Dorian Haarhoff, Stephen Coan and Claire Clark asks us to change our attitude to this seemingly mundane human need and make it into a joyful, flavourful journey, full of delights and surprises.

These recipes originated at a special place: The Buddhist Retreat Centre (BRC) in Ixopo, KZN, which is renowned for its excellent, innovative vegetarian cuisine for more than 30 years. It published its first collection of recipes in 2005 under the title Quiet Food – a Recipe for Sanity - now in its sixth reprint. The Cake the Buddha Ate: More Quiet Food takes this culinary success story to another level. These are imaginative, tasty and nutritious dishes created by an exceptionally talented chef, Daniel Jardim, himself a vegetarian, while he cooked at the Centre.

However, there is more to the BRC than outstanding food. Photographs, anecdotes, poems and haikus offer a glimpse of the Centre’s magnificent setting and the range of workshops and retreats conducted there.

Chrisi van Loon was in charge of the editing of this recipe book, as she was with its predecessor, Quiet Food. She oversees and generally directs the many activities at the BRC, including the setting up of the retreat programmes and liaising with teachers. She sources the exquisite merchandise for the BRC shop. An excellent cook, a vegetarian and animal lover, she ensures that the BRC keeps its reputation for producing fine vegetarian food.

Louis van Loon purchased the property on which the Buddhist Retreat Centre has been established in 1970. It opened for its first retreat in April 1980. In this recipe book, he recalls some of the incidents in its early history and describes some of the retreats he conducts there. During the 1970s and 80s he lectured in Buddhist philosophy at the universities of Cape Town and Durban-Westville. His interest lies in the psychology of meditation and in the relationship between art, science, religion and philosophy. He is an architect and consulting civil and structural engineer in private practice.

Daniel Jardim grew up in a Portuguese family and his parents run the Jardim School of Cookery. At age 13 he made the decision to become a vegetarian and has subsequently spent some of his years in London exploring Indian and Asian food, his biggest passion being Sushi. His training as a chef includes working at Japanese restaurants and at the Buddhist Retreat Centre.

Photographer Angela Shaw started her career in Hong Kong, after which she spent two years documenting the rich Buddhist traditions of Burma. Now living in South Africa, Angela works for an international trend and research company, and has had many of her photographs featured in the country’s major newspapers and magazines.

Dorian Haarhoff is a writer, story-teller and mentor. Passionate about developing innate creativity and imagination, he believes in the power of images and stories to spread loving kindness and to bring healing; to build our belonging. He is a former Professor of English (Namibia). Dorian’s poems appear in Quiet Food. He draws his inspiration from (the) literature, mythology, narrative therapy, spirituality, and eco- and Jungian psychology – and from frequent visits to the BRC. Like the tingshaw, the Retreat Centre echoes through his poetry which features in the recipe book (DH).

Stephen Coan is a journalist on The Witness, Pietermaritzburg’s daily newspaper. He has been involved with the Buddhist Retreat Centre both as a retreatant and teacher for over 20 years. Out of this experience came his collection of poetry, Chant of the Doves. His poems feature in the recipe book (SC).

Claire Clark counts herself lucky. Her passion for all things creative has become her career. Being a freelancer, she has collaborated with many talented people and worked on a variety of design projects. She feels blessed to have been part of The Cake the Buddha Ate. Her journey has taken her into many aspects of design, from fine art to graphic, painting to photography, layout to styling. She is inspired by living in Durban and its luscious natural environment. To her, food is one of nature’s finest creative designs.

The Cake the Buddha Ate – More Quiet Food, EAN/ISBN-13: 9781770097728, was published in paperback by Jacana Media in March 2011 and retails at R225.