The Diamond Sutra Restaurant - Tantric Cuisine

Co-owner/chef Jene LaRue explains the items on the chalkboard menu to a couple of patrons at The Diamond Sutra Restaurant. Behind Jene is the large painting by Noble Richardson; in the foreground is a view from the open kitchen, highly unusual at that time.

Co-owner/chef Jene LaRue explains the items on the chalkboard menu to a couple of patrons at The Diamond Sutra Restaurant. Behind Jene is the large painting by Noble Richardson; in the foreground is a view from the open kitchen, highly unusual at that time.

CUISINE IMAGINAIRE:
An account of the true origins of California Cuisine
or
EAT IT BEFORE IT EATS YOU

by
Kurt von Meier
Thomas Genelli
Jene LaRue

" I was raw. Now I am cooked and burnt."
----Mevlana

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"Some would have us believe that the art of cooking commenced with civilization. I am not persuaded by this argument, for surely Cro-Magnon man, if not his ancestors,had discovered the wonders of the roast and must have been cooking his meat over the same fire which kept him warm and drove off the terrors of the night."

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"The dervishes cooked for many. It was a blessing to feed others. They were themselves like a pot of food which gave nourishment and had to be emptied each night."

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Hamlet: "Your worm is your only emperor for diet: we fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service,- two dishes, but to one table: that's the end."

King: Alas, alas.

Hamlet: A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king and eat of the fish that fed of that worm.

King: What dost thou mean by this?

Hamlet: Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.

_______________________________________

This poster was designed by Stephen Ehret for the Diamond Sutra Restaurant.

This poster was designed by Stephen Ehret for the Diamond Sutra Restaurant.

Tom Genelli's Version

California Cuisine was born on January 2, 1970 at the ranch home of Dr. Kurt "Buddy" von Meier, one mile south of Oakville in the Napa Valley. I can't remember the details of that evening's meal, only that it was beyond any eating experience that I had ever had. Given that the women in the large Italian family I grew up in equated their self-worth with what they set on the table, the above statement looms large in my gastronomic consciousness.

It was quite a meal. It was so good, in fact, that when Buddy launched into a rambling theoretical discussion about the yin and yang aspects of the meal I was consuming, revealing to me the arcane tantric principles of food preparation, I listened. I'm not sure that I understood very much of what he was talking about, but I did notice that the more I ate, the happier and more elated I became. I accepted this as a kind of instananeous positive feedback for Buddy's postulations that food could get you high. How high? Well, let's see. Washing down spicy mouthfuls of succulent Chicken Mole with bottles of ice cold Dos XX my taste buds began a chain reaction of flavor explosions. The combined complexity and Clarity of the experience was like hearing stereophonic sound for the first time, only in your mouth. There seemed to be an infinite regression of tastes, each more subtle and distinct than the preceding one, all of them totally unique but only in relationship to the balance of the others. By the end of the meal I was flying. No one sat around the fire digesting their dinner that evening. We danced and played music until the sun rose and it was time to eat again- eggs poached in left-over Mole sauce, fresh tortillas from De Luna in Rutherford and lots of strong Graffeo coffee.

Given the time and place in history that this meal occurred, this could all be easily attributed to the drug-crazed ravings of an over-educated glutton. And, if the truth be told, I can't be sure that the meal hadn't been preceded with one of those early afternoon stimulants which were so much a part of those heady days. But something more than controlled substances had gone down that evening in Oakville; and something more than my waistline was to grow as a result of it.

Judy Plummer hanging at the counter of the open kitchen.

Judy Plummer hanging at the counter of the open kitchen.

The guests at Buddy's ranch had included Jene LaRue, then a classics professor at San Francisco State, his then wife Diane, Buddy's girlfriend, Judy Plummer, and myself, just returned from teaching in New York City. To a person we were so overwhelmed by the gustatory happenings of that fateful weekend that when someone mumbled through a mouthful of food, "Let's open a restaurant!", we did.

The Diamond Sutra Restaurant, an Esalen Institute of the stomach, featuring "Tantric Cuisine" was put into orbit in May of 1970 after three months of conversion from a storefront at Diamond and 24th Streets in a, then, very sleepy Noe Valley district. The most exciting thing happening on 24th Street in those days was the line at Bud's Ice Cream down at the corner of Castro. The line, and there was always a line, invariably looked like it was cast by R. Crumb. Magnolia Thunderpussy, pioneers in space age catering and horne delivery, had just closed their 24th and Castro location. The nearest thing to haute cuisine was a trip over the hill to the booths of the South China Cafe on 18th and Collingwood. There wasn't exactly a deafening cry for a restaurant at 24th and Diamond, but by this time we had become so addicted to each others cooking that we were at least assured that our source would be around for a while, sort of a half-way house for the gastronomically dependent.

The place looked great, a Zen/desert motif, clean and spare, a five-part eight by 20 foot desert mandala by desert playboy painter Noble Richardson hung on one wall, a kitchen two feet below the dining room lit by spots. The first thing we learned was the answer to the question, "What if we open a restaurant and nobody comes?" 737 Diamond Street wasn't exactly crawling with foot traffic. The locals all called the place The Diamond Sutro (What's a Sutra?) and had a bit of trouble with the words "Tantric Cuisine" on the door, if not with our logo which depicted a man and woman ouroborically entwined in mutual fellatio and cunnilingus. I'm not sure whether it was Tantric or Cuisine that bothered them. Both were strangers to the area. We weren't really much help. We cooked and ate and when people came in asking if this was a health food restaurant we would snarl that it was a healthy food restaurant, and no, it wasn't organic. We used to send a lot of people to The Real Good Karma Cafe on 18th and Dolores. We knew it would be safer for them. They weren't ready for "Tantric Cuisine".

We had been referring to the unique style of food that we were developing as California Continental but thought that was pretty pretentious for a door on Diamond Street. Besides it really didn't convey the mix of Eastern and Latin flavors that so influenced our cooking. Perhaps the best term we carne up with was Pan-Pacific Cuisine, at least it was the most accurate. The term California Cuisine was thrown around but seemed too vague.

Rather than be vague we went for the downright arcane with "Tantric Cuisine". It seemed to cover anything that might happen in our kitchen and almost anything did. For the first two months we averaged twenty sold meals an evening (we only served dinner). But the restaurant was full. I would go down to the line at Bud's and bring back the people that hadn't eaten. We managed to give away about thirty meals a night. Most people didn't know what hit them. Here they were waiting for a mocha chip cone and the next thing they were eating Curried Bay Shrimp baked in a papaya shell with basmati rice and snow peas. A lot of people were really speechless. Even giving away food every night we somehow broke even, operating as we were on a "Cast your bread upon the waters" economic theory.

Two things changed all that.

The first was a full page review in the Examiner. It was presented in the form of an interview with the Diamond Sutra's fourth world dishwasher, Jose Que. Jose (Buddy, looking a cross between a Huichol Shaman and a Salinas lettuce picker) overwhelmed the nice lady reporter with a Gado Gado salad and the revelation that there were really only six different dishes in the world. With a piece of meat and an onion you could create the cuisine of any country in the world by the simple manipulation of a few locally available herbs and spices. Gross substances could be turned to gold. Kitchen alchemy was to be broached in the pages of the Examiner. The mysteries were revealed. Anyone could be a brilliant cook.

The second thing to change the fortunes of the Diamond Sutra was its discovery by San Francisco's professional Gestalt community, then exerting its own influence on the fairly playful psyches of this city's population. When the community's leading bozos, Richard Miller and Larry Blumberg, walked into the Diamond Sutra they were looking for a new experience. What they got was transformation on a fork. From that night on the place resembled recess at a Humanist convention. Every shrink in town was there, and their patients followed. After eating one might even be fortunate enough to receive a massage on one of the big Douglas Fir slabs which served as tables.

By the time ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE did a cover feature on the restaurant that winter, we were ready to retire. People who didn't have the slightest idea about what we were doing wanted to buy the place and that was fine with us. A year was a good run. We sold The Diamond Sutra in May of 1971 and moved as a group to the ranch at Oakville where our frequent exotic requests to the obliging manager of the local store led to the evolution of the Oakville Grocery. But that's another story.

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Jene LaRue's Version

My dear friend Tom is somewhat "off-base" about the origins of California Cuisine and The Diamond Sutra. Controlled substances, indeed! They were quite out of control and very much a part of our daily culinary consciousness. You see, the real beginning of California Cuisine is closely connected with the first appearance of Cuisine Imaginaire, which arose in connection with an eclipsing moon over the afore-mentioned Oakville ranch. That lunatic night produced the first recipe in the compendium of Cuisine Imaginaire--the infamous "Chicken-No-Pineapple." The recipe for this seminal dish follows and will give you some idea of the rigor with which we planned to attack La Cuisine Americaine.

Chicken-No-Pineapple

Assemble the guests in your house. Give them all large quantities of psylocybe mexicana and synthetic mescaline to ingest. After you play a lot of music on whatever instruments are available and go outside to observe the eclipse of the moon, somebody may wander into the kitchen and stick a chicken into the oven to roast. Undoubtedly you will not have any fresh pineapple in the house; hence the title of this recipe.

When the dish is prepared, throw all the dishes and silverware off the table onto the floor, making sure that you make a lot of noise. Have one of your attractive female guests take off all of her clothes and lie down on the dinner table. Serve the food on her white and luscious body.

With this particular dish a White Graves goes well, although a California Sauvignon Blanc may do in a pinch. When preparing a recipe such as this from haute cuisine, be careful with your guest list the first time around.

It might be fairly said that the above recipe shared something with the Tantric tradition. For me Tantric Cuisine meant saying "yes" to all the possibilities of cuisine. There would be no nay-saying- only yes to the possibility of blowing our customers' minds and palates. Ours, I believe, was the only restaurant in San Francisco in which the waiter was offered on the menu (choice of preparation was not mentioned). In short, we wanted to have fun and burst a few bubbles (an appropriate metaphor, if ever there was one, for a restaurant called The Diamond Sutra). We wanted to combat the plastic, sterile environments which were present even in our beloved San Francisco. We hoped to create a place where the magic art of cookery was to be presented. Even today in "Nouvelle California" it is  tricky business to define what is lacking in most restaurants.

It is my feeling that there is a certain earthy quality lacking, an unspoken conspiracy to disguise the food, as if it did not come from the soil and sea of this very planet. This feeling has for some time influenced my feelings about restaurants. I went on following the Diamond path and opened a restaurant in Buffalo, New York, called the Vajrayana. There was, perhaps, less foot traffic than on Diamond Street in San Francisco, and perhaps even more food was given away. The Vajrayana was mainly known for its searingly hot curries and a series of concerts given by Eberhard Blum of Berlin.

Diane LaRue preparing a dish for dinner at the Diamond Sutra.

Diane LaRue preparing a dish for dinner at the Diamond Sutra.

Frankly, the pissy aspects of "California Cuisine" have always left me cold. I have a strong aversion to cute plates without enough food on them. This is probably due to the fact that my first sense of cuisine came from my uncle, Joe Allen, who was the brewmaster at the old Steam Beer Brewery on 17th and Kansas Streets in San Francisco. On brewing days we used to sit by the old coppery brew kettle with loaves of french bread, cold cuts, cheese, dill pickles, and copious amounts of red wine, Jim Beam, and, of course, steam beer. With a gleam in his eye Uncle Joe would raise a glass of steam beer to the light, look tenderly at the amber liquid, then exclaim, "It's got the groceries in it." He was proud of that fact. Indeed, there was an old sot of a sign painter whom my uncle allowed to hang out at the brewery. As far as I could tell he subsisted soley on steam beer.

Then there were the gargantuan feasts given by Uncle Joe and Aunt Anna at their remarkable house south of Market. As a child, I remember stepping over the wines to reach their front door, where my Aunt Anna would drop the front door key out of the bay window into my waiting hands. And what a strange and delicious world inside- the aroma of food cooking, the scent of incense which was constantly burning to cover the smell of opium which Aunt Anna smoked. And these two smells were backed by the faintly acrid smell of cat urine.

Dinners at Uncle Joe's were four hour affairs. Perhaps roast duck from Chinatown served over sauerkraut, followed by huge· porterhouse steaks with home-fried potatoes. All this was washed down by steam beer from the two kegs which were always on tap, Jim Beam whiskey, and jug red wine. Dinner was eaten in a musty old dining room with trophy heads of elk, deer, and bear looking down on us in astonishment at our gastronomic prowess. Here no one was concerned with calories, unless it was to get as many of them as possible. Uncle Joe would have laughed at the pale light beers which are served to weight-conscious Californians these days. He would not have been able to understand or appreciate the new light cuisine. In those days people were not so concerned with their weight, but we were strong and healthy.

My other culinary influence was every bit as grandiose, since I too passed much of my young life with Tom's large Italian family. I recall with pleasure the long Sunday dinners: Antipasto, pasta, salads, potatoes, fowl, the inevitable Sunday roast beef, and dessert.

Well, a lot of beurre blanc and Chardonnay have flowed under the bridge since those golden days and sons and daughters of Diamond Sutra have come and gone and even spawned children of their own. God bless them, I say, even if some have gotten a bit precious with the concept. We may have nose-dived as often as we soared at The Diamond Sutra, but no one ever left hungry; to borrow a quote, "There's no such thing as too much food. There's only enough and not enough."

I can envision the coming culmination of California Cuisine. You and your party enter the beautifully
appointed blond wood and white tile establishment to be greeted by a young maitre d'. You all sit down together and talk about food and restaurants for an hour and then leave. Meanwhile, over at seven different Siamese restaurants in Berkeley taste buds are being blown away in the ongoing development of a true Pan-Pacific Cuisine.

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Kurt von Meier's Version

One suspects more than food was at play when this drawing by Kurt von Meier explicating the Diamond Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism made its way into the world.

One suspects more than food was at play when this drawing by Kurt von Meier explicating the Diamond Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism made its way into the world.

The base truth about cuisine is that YOU CAN EAT ANYTHING THAT DOESN'T EAT YOU FIRST. At a time that seems very long ago- 500,000 years, but recently in the evolution of our species- fire made its appearance in archaeological sites of human habitation. In China, at the famous cave of Chou-kou T'ien, and also near the Trinl River in Java, it is clear that human beings used and controlled fire in the preparation of food. Some food they still ate raw- notably the fresh brain~of other human beings. Therefore, the question still being culturally resolved, as it were, could be put in terms of eating ANYONE WHO doesn't eat you first. So in a strict sense, it is the question of WHOM? that must be answered first by enquiries into the natural history of cuisine. Certainly any serious consideration of cuisine must address questions of cooking, even perhaps paying attention to recipes and refinements of technique. But the concerns of cuisine are larger, including the setting: how we come to the table, with our expectations excited by the music or the company or the actual display on the tabletop, as well as by our knowledge of the menu. Yet all of these refinements of a shared repast could not add to our pleasure if we felt obliged to cast wary glances over our shoulder into the shadows of our cave in anxiety about becoming the piece de resistance.

As long as "Who eats whom?" is a prevailing issue, a more sophisticated appreciation of culinary niceties, while not utterly beside the point, nevertheless remains difficult to share with the full spirit of hospitality, ease and openness, comfort and good humor.

The matter is not to be gainsaid. Every single human society has its gory myths, its cautionary tales and moral teachings about cannibalism. For those of us who count Greek civilization in our cultural ancestry, this is the issue introduced by the story of Odysseus and his visit to the cave of the Cyclops Polyphemus as set down in Homer's ODYSSEY. The one-eyed giant Polyphemus violates the Greek standards of hospitality, by which ordinary human beings are expected, nay more, minimally required, to treat one another. These are not the strictures that pertain to members of a family or other kinship group, nor the obligations of club members; they are rules for common humanity, the requisite courtesies to be extended to any human being whose path is crossed. So when the one-eyed giant violates this fundamental behaviour principle by eating several of his men, Odysseus teaches him a lesson by putting out that eye with a firebrand.

Perhaps this might be an appropriate place to introduce our first
recipe from Cuisine Imaginaire:

L'Homme a l'Estragon

Imagine that you are Sinanthropus Pekinensis (Peking Man) sitting around the fire with some of your mates. You are hungry because you had no luck in the hunt today. It is extremely cold and the wind is blowing fiercely. Wolves are howling nearby.

Stare intently into the fire. Huddle close with your mates to keep warm. Then stand up and pretend you are going off into the brush to urinate. Find a large sharp rock. Come back to the group quietly and strike the weakest of the group sharply in the middle of the skull. Throw him on the fire. After the smell becomes almost unbearable turn him over and sprinkle some tarragon on him, if you have any.

You would be wise to share this dish with your esteemed friends. When finished, leave a few bones scattered around the campsite, so that archaeologists five hundred thousand years late can learn something about the development of cuisine.

Other writers have observed that during the paleolithic period of human culture the prevailing question is WHAT one is to eat. In this historical context we may understand our true evolved nature as omnivores, especially during the last half million years of the paleolithic, following the invention of cooking, after the discovery of ways in which fire could be controlled. Meat, of course, could be eaten raw. It was the grass seeds, the grains that had to be cooked before our human bellies could digest more than a mouthful. To be sure, the connection between grains and fire as well as that between grains and cannibalism is often missed by the innocent romantics, self-righteous about eating meat and in deep ignorance of the literature from field anthropology or the history of mythology. Where the vestiges of ritualized cannibalism have survived, there is always the idea that human sacrifice is to pay the gods for the gift of grain; never are human beings ceremonially killed to placate the spirits of hunted animals, for the death of the animal itself fulfills that function of sacrifice.

Paleolithic techniques of cooking- up until about 15,000 years ago or so- were presumably limited, although not necessarily simple, because of the relative scarcity of cooking implements. Roasting on an open fire (chestnuts, yes, and also meat from the hunt) , wrapping and roasting in ashes, smoking, even possibly rock boiling in early baskets made watertight with bitumen were methods available. When, however, the neolithic developed the implements for cooking, together with the major innovations of civilization upon which we are still coasting, the question of HOW the meal is prepared becomes prominent.

The more fundamental issues concern farming and stock breeding, neolithic activities that gradually replace prior practices of hunting and gathering. From the time of the earliest evidence for deliberate planting, that is to say a grain agriculture, in the upper Nile Valley around B.C. 17,000, communities became more settled. And in general, the shift from nomadic Ifie meant that a household accumulated tools and utensils: rope and twine, baskets, clay pots, grills and griddles, spits, racks, pits and prongs. Knives and other cutting edges were naturally handed down as valued objects of power as they had been since before even the use of fire. By the time of the high paleolithic in China, virtually all of the known methods for preserving and for cooking food known and in practice today had appeared and can be documented. In China, the earliest bronze pieces of the Yin and Shang Dynasties are also among the finest and most elegant the world has known. They prove that in many ways it is quite off the mark to use the term "evolution" in the history of the fine arts, if by that one wants to imply any increase in esthetic merit or technical achievement.

So we see that the sequence of personal pronouns by which the history of eating may be ordered has begun with WHO or WHOM, or better WITH WHOM? taking us up to half a million years ago.

Humanity really focussed on the question of WHAT? It is not that we can escape either of these old questions. But the leading edge of concern shifted in the neolithic to techniques: grinding stones to turn grain into flour, ceramic pottery, and the backyard fence, which kept all of the animals out of the vegetables and some of the animals in so they could be the main course. With metallurgy, beginning around 5,000 years ago, we begin in earnest the world of pots and pans, and of knives which, if not sharper than glass, are nevertheless more durable. This is the great period of HOW to cook. Since the innovation of cooking techniques, then, we have been practicing, and perhaps refining a bit, but not inventing anything substantially new. The great contribution to the world's understanding about food made by China of the high neolithic was that you can prepare almost anything so that it can be eaten- PROVIDED THAT YOU CHOP IT FINELY ENOUGH. Sometimes it doesn't even have to be cooked.

This is where all the known principles for preserving food can be appreciated in traditional Chinese cuisine: salting, drying, smoking, steeping, burying, candying, pickling, freezing, and the rest except for the modern mechanical and chemical processes such as freeze-drying, vacuum-packing, and BHT or nitrate immersion. Chopped very finely and stir-fired in a wok with sizzling sesame seed oil, say with some grated ginger, a slivered scallion and a few leaves of coriander (cilantro), dressed with a dash of soy or oyster sauce, and laid on a bed of steamed rice, even shoe leather might seem good enough to eat.

What comes next is the question of WHERE to eat. Of course resaurants are modern innovations. Most people know that the bistro sprang into being to service the gustatory needs of the Russians in Paris. The real restaurant, where one could restore oneself with food and wine is an idea that has still not invaded the British Isles with any great success.

The spirit of California cuisine was born in the building of that blessed Noe Valley fodder bin and watering hole (beer and wine) , the Diamond Sutra Restaurant. The name was a natural, located at 737 Diamond Street: A.D. 737 being a date honored in the Tibetan, Vajrayana (or Diamond) Tradition of the teachings of Gautama the Buddha, for it was in that year the great guru and saint Padma Sambhava entered Tibet bringing with him the Tantric teachings of the Thought of Enlightenment. Over 1200 years laters, the West Coast felt a wave of psycho-spiritual energy from across the Pacific Ocean. Interpreted by popular writers such as Alan Watts, ~ the Zen Buddhist practice was particularly well-received, both for its direct teachings and for the esthetic qualities of the cultural packaging, the dramatic and elegant simplicity!

The Tibetan is very harmonious with the audacious intellectual rigor of the Japanese transmission of Zen. Some 2500 years ago there was born in a town called Lumbini, in what is now the country of Nepal, a young prince of the royal family of Kapila. The present Nepalese government technically a Hindu monarchy, pursues a development project in the environs of Lumbini, cleaning the place up, planting some gardens, building roads for the access of pilgrims, erecting fences, and inevitably selling tickets. Not much is left at Lumbini, although it is one of the four sites of pilgrimage marking the key events in the life of the Prince, whose name was called Gautama. He was raised with luxury and comfort, inside the insulated palace courtyards, pavilions and gardens. Curious to explore the outside world, according to the standard tale, the now handsome young Prince observes in his outing three moving manifestations of mortality: sickness, old age and death. He returns to his opulent quarters in the palace in order to contemplate the implications for his own life of these newly-discovered temporal phenomena. In one of the little-known versions of this story, preserved in an Arabic manuscript, the Prince of Kapila lies on his bed, gazing up at the ceiling, reflecting upon the transient nature of being. His clear eyes focus on the roof beam in which he sees the spirit of the tree, once vigorous with life that was felled for the building of the palace. This little piece of tree-lore, omitted in the orthodox version of the tale, suggests the idea of life and even sentience may be extended to the vegetable kingdom, reinforcing the symbolism of that later scene when, after searching and wandering among the holy men, the sadhus and yogis, Gautama achieved a state of enlightenment at the foot of the famous Bo tree at Bodh Gaya, in India.

He had first given up attempts at achieving perfection through yogic practices such as fasting and mortification of the flesh, realizing that such a path would not be of much benefit to ordinary human beings. The Buddha then went to a place called Saranath, where there is a deer park, quite near the very ancient and holy city of Benares. There he delivered his first words of teaching, setting in motion, as Buddhists say, spinning the Wheel of Dharma. And for some forty years, the second part of his life until he died at the age of eighty, Gautama wandered along the roads of northern India, talking with ordinary people. None of his actual words were recorded formally, that is set down in writing, during his lifetime, but his followers listened attentively and committed much of what he said to memory, preserving it in an oral tradition generally referred to as the teachings of the Paramita.

The word Paramita is Sanskrit, meaning "other side," which is to suggest a view transcending the distinction imagined by conventional thought between life and death- or, to put it more technically, between death and rebirth; long after the death of the historical Buddha, the teachings of the Paramita were transcribed and compiled in a vast number of Sutras or sacred texts. The so-called DIAMOND SUTRA is one of the most famous, the clearest and held to be among the most powerful of these texts. It is quite short, particularly when compared to other frequently voluminous teachings, being composed of some 3000 lines. Its self-declared purpose is to compress the essence of the entire teachings of the latter part of the Buddha's life into a single sutra.

Indeed, the process of compression goes further, for as the text states, the whole of the teaching contained in the sutra itself can be represented in the words of a single poem: refined, purified, adamantine, diamond-hard, crystalline. The text of the poem, that appears toward the end of the sutra, says just that: "The whole of it," or "The Universe," or with the intended meaning, "The entire teachings of the Paramita as preached by Gautama the Buddha, as heard and remembered by his disciples, and as transcribed long after his death in order that the living oral memory of the words might better and more accurately be treasured for the benefit of those sentient beings who follow after, and as summarized by this, the DIAMOND or DIAMOND-CUTTER SUTRA, may be seen-imagined-visualized as ... "

And that is the gist of the first line of the poem. What follows then are three more lines of the poem, each of which is composed of three words in Sanskrit, that is to say nine concrete poetic images. So all and everything might seem in anyone of nine different way- anyone of them as good as any other, but nine in number from which to choose.

 STARS           CATARACT            LAMP

MAGIC SHOW           DEW          BUBBLE

CLOUD             VAJRA               DREAM

Commentaries about on what each of these mean, or what they might mean, the associations, interpretations and so forth. Here it may be important at least to offer the standard translation for the Sanskrit word Vajra. It may mean "diamond," or also "lightning bolt," as well as indicating the more abstract quality of "adamantine," Cuisine Imaginaire or Tales of Shallots.

  1. A Dream-Like Steak

  2. Placenta con Polenta

  3. Bocce Ball Salad

  4. Spaghettini alia Father Guido Sarducci

  5. Caveman Cassoulet

  6. L'Homme a l'estragon

  7. Rump Roast of Candide or Tongue in Cheek

  8. Chicken-No-Pineapple

  9. Tasmanian Deviled Eggs

  10. No Pork Left

  11. Shrunken Eggs (quail eggs presented as hen's eggs which have been shrunken by a vegetarian headhunter)

  12. No Soup At All

  13. Red Herring done with lime of the Ancient Marinator

A Dream-Like Steak

Take one thickly cut New York Strip or Top Round Steak. Season with salt and pepper. Light candle and incense.
Ring bell three times. Gaze intently at the steak for thirty-five minutes.

Ring bell three times.

Throw steak on grill. Cook until thoroughly burnt.

Serve with A-I Steak Sauce and a little wooden marker saying, "I was raw, now I am cooked and burnt."

Placenta con Polenta

Finda one lady, whosa jus hadda babino ...

Make a sure you getta to the hospital on time.

After the bambino arrive, tella the doctor you wanna the afterbirth. If he no wanna give it to you, hit him up the side of the head or break his feet.

Take the placenta home and serve over freshly made polenta. Very nutritious, lotsa vitamins.

L'homme a l'estragon

Imagine that you are Sinanthropus Pekinensis (Peking Man) sitting around the fire with some of your mates. You are hungry because you had no luck in the hunt today_ It is extremely cold and the wind is blowing fiercely. Wolves are howling nearby.

Stare intently into the fire. Huddle close with your mates to keep warm. Then stand up and pretend you are going off into the brush to urinate. Find a large sharp rock. Come back to the group quietly and strike the weakest of the group sharply in the middle of the skull. Throw him on the fire. After the smell becomes almost unbearable turn him over and sprinkle some tarragon on him, if you have any.

You would be wise to share this dish with your esteemed friends. When finished, leave a few bones scattered around the campsite, so that archaeologists five hundred thousand years later can learn something about the development of cuisine.

Chicken No Pineapple

Assemble the guests in your house. Give all of them large quantities of psylocybe mexicana and synthetic mescaline to ingest. After you play a lot of music and go outside to look at the eclipse of the moon, somebody may wander into the kitchen and stick a chicken into the oven to roast. Undoubtedly you will not have any fresh pineapple in the house; hence the title of this recipe.

When the dish is prepared, throw all the dishes and silverware off the table onto the floor, making sure that you make a lot of noise. Have one of your attractive female guests take off all of her clothes and lie down on the dinner table. Serve the food on her white and lucious body.

With this particular dish a White Graves goes well, although a California Sauvignon Blanc may do in a pinch. When preparing a recipe such as this from haute cuisine, be careful with your guest list the first time around.

Tasmanian Deviled Eggs

Hard cook some eggs.
Mash the yolks with mayonnaise (Best Foods), peanut butter, sambal olek, coriander, Indonesian ginger, temoe, Koentja Ketjep, bentez manis.
Stuff back in egg white and garnish with dry-fried coconut.

No Soup At All

Present an empty white soup bowl on an empty white liner. Make sure there is a soup spoon at the table.
If this dish does not taste exquisite, it is your own lack of imagination.

Excursion Soup

"The difference between an excursion soup and a common or house soup was simply this, that the latter was uniformly liquid whereas the former contained a piece of fat bacon intended to keep up the strength of the excursionist until his return. When his bucket had been filled Lemuel withdrew to a secluded place, rolled up his sleeve to the elbow, fished up from the bottom of the bucket one after another the six pieces of bacon, his own and five others, ate all the fat off them, sucked the rinds and threw them back in the soup."
— Samuel Beckett,
Malone Dies, New York: Grove Press, 1956, Fifth Printing, p.112

Left to right: Kurt von Meier, Jene LaRue and Tom Genelli, founders of the Diamond Sutra.

Left to right: Kurt von Meier, Jene LaRue and Tom Genelli, founders of the Diamond Sutra.