menu for July 1, 1970
These recipes and notes prepared for Helen Civelli Brown by Jose Que, the 4th World dishwasher.
The name is Indonesian: peanuts, or a peanut sauce made with butter (or oils) and SAMBAL OLEK (ground capsicum--red, hot chile pepper). This sauce is freshly prepared, dashed over crisp, cold spinach, lettuce or other greens. The resulting salad is Tantric in character through several conjoined opposites, or complementarities, of taste, flavor, temperature, texture, color, and all those other attributes of ritual food.
Taste: the bland peanut flavor + lively pepper does a nice yin/yang dance around the fulcrum of the greens. Peanut=savory + sambal=spicy (i.e. Bitter or 'hot'). The third element, the greens, are associated with salt.
Thus 3 out of the 4 basic tastes are represented. Putting them together is easy.
As a vehicle toward Enlightenment, making this salad is sometimes more effective if the LAMA/GURU/YOGI/COOK meditates on the secret, mystical element required to complete, balance and harmonize the mandala of taste.
Physiologically, there are four (and apparently only four) different tastes we can perceive:
[Handwritten margin notes list five, adding SOUR to the list-Ed.]
SAVORY--in language, the most essential of good tastes, meaning just that (from the Old French savourer, with the past participle, savouré, giving the Early Middle English, savure) fragrant, appetizing, pleasing to the taste.
BITTER--bitterness is the sensation. Words can confuse here, or lead to discovering underlying associations. This sense is 'hot' (piquant, spicy). It is the picric acid in the chiles that makes them hot (bitter, spicy or whatever. The esthetics of 'bitterness' can reveal extraordinary dimensions of taste. The words for this, perhaps least well-explored area (for American palettes, anyway), sometimes confound "bitter' with unpleasant, 'hot' with temperature, 'spicy' with all the different tastes (in addition to piquancy) that spices are capable of evoking. The key is in the the solar, fire energy stored chemically in the structure of acids like the capsicum's picric acid (from the Greek, bitter).
SALTY--So ancient and essential a food for our systems that we need only reflect upon our origins, as sentient beings, to appreciate what salt (or the saline solution that was part of that vast primordial ocean) has always meant for life. Salt and water are, as they apparently always were, at least part of the preconditions for life itself. Next trip to the Amazon, take blocks of salt with you for trading to the natives; also, salt is better than money in many parts of the Sahara (there are salt caravans from Timbuctu).
SWEET--The fourth node of the taste mandala. Apart from desserts or dishes that are primarily sweet (in which American cuisine excells) the element of sweetness is remarkably little developed, i.e., as a complementary element together with the other three tastes. It is amusing to hear sweetness getting the heavy rap from "pure" food freaks; probably an understandable hyperreaction preliminary to enmpnehending how sweetness works with food.
In terms of taste, GADDO GADDO could be thought of as a dynamic opposition/complementarity between savory and bitter. The "hot," bitter, chile pepper (sambal) is the YANG element: in other (inter)related systems corresponding to the male, light, solar, creative, active principles, and in Tantric tradition resuscitated with Siva, the controlling intellect, the cerebral cortex, and ideas of order, structure, measure.
The Yin (female, dark, recessive, Earth-oriented) element is savory; the peanut isn't really a nut--it is a tuber, like like a potato, growing in the earth, a root. In contrast, chile peppers--all of them native to the New World--need the sun; the more heat and light and solar energy, the more they get it on to do their chile thing. High-power, vitamin C, intensity.
The fulcrum for this mysterium conjunctionis and Tantric Taste Treat, we have suggested, is the green leaves of spinach, lettuce, collards, chard, mustard and the like. These vegetables are mostly water (prime vehicle for salt). As this recipe for GADDO GADDO is presented for a salad, the greens are also the vehicle for the "sauce." But it should be already clear that one element is no more important than another: almost the whole story is in the manifold ways of achieving unity, harmony, balance, togetherness, and ultimately a sense of oneness with cosmic principles and rhythms--through nourishing the body with righteous food.
The key to this totality is in the (at this point still secret) element of sweetness, leading to a totally blown mind and viscera (as if they were separate). The mandala, as one of the graphic forms in which the experience of cooking and eating this salad, or writing about it, may be conceived. It could, for example, be represented like this:
If anyone were really interested in understanding this GADDO GADDO trip, instead of just looking for a swift and tasty salad to whip up, they would do well to consider those other aspects of flavor, temperature, texture, etcetry, etcetry suggested above--proceeding, perhaps, much as we have through the realm of taste. "Flavor" and taste, incidentally, are not synonymous. One way of thinking about the distinction is to remember that there are really only four basic tastes, perceived through taste sensors on the tongue and in the mouth. The rest of what we commonly call "tastes" are attributes perceived through olifactory senses--through the nose, like fragrances, aromas,: bouquets, smells, odors and such. And any even semi-serious wine fancier can tell you, or may try to tell you, how each of these are distinct functions too. In the GADDO GADDO, it is the way the flavors complement each other that make it taste so fantastic. How could you beat peanuts, spinach, chile peppers and secrets?
If you are going to take the GADDO GADDO trip anyway and really want to get high (which is what it's all about anyway, isn't it?), then consider the tantric way in which the temperatures get it together. The greens should be very cold, but not frozen because this will cause them to wilt and lose their freshness & color, to say nothing of the beautiful texture that is a structural foil for the creamy, viscous sauce. They will hold their texture and color and flavor for a few minutes--just as they will stay cold even with the hot sauce over the top (same-o, same-o, Baked Alaska). Hence, GADDO GADDO should be prepared freshly, swiftly, and served promptly...like serving souffles correctly, which means you don't even start making them until everyone is seated, thereby doing much to eliminate at least one type of catastrophe Attendant!
The greens are a good place to start the recipe; but we could begin talking about it from any point because a good recipe is really a cycle instead of a sequence--a paradigm about relationships and principles, integral, whole. Or it should be, no? So in a cycle we can start anywhere, in any direction. But doing it and talking about it are different. Start in by planting your spinach in good, fertile,soil, free from chemical poisons and pollutants. How much do you trust other people to grow your food for you with love, care and understanding? It may look nice in the supermarkets, but we are all beginning to find out what THEY spray on the surfaces--and for those who are still interested in image rather than substance, a vision of wholesomeness and nourishment that used to be called forth by a table of beautiful food is becoming transformed (even for the poisioners themselves) into a spectre of some insane and relentless ritual of self-annihilation. Like the super ripe and pretty apple of the Wicked Queen in Snow White. Yet Snow had it easier, statistically, in the Apocalypse according to Disney: she had only one apple to bite into (intriguing inversion of the Garden of Eden, Forbidden Fruit, Adam and Eve myth into Queenie as a manifestation of the All-devouring Earth Mother, like the witch in Hansel and Gretel, cognate with the serpent as the mythic python coiled around the navel of the world, the oomphalos at Delphi, and whom Apollo slew).
For us all the poison is dispersed: there is no such thing as pure and organic food anymore. NO matter how carefully you nurture your own crops, how assiduous in your avoidance of chemical fertilizers and sprays, the DDT descends in the rain. The air, the water and the earth are contaminated for everyone--even for those few scattered vestiges of tribes with enlightened Neolithic states of consciousness wherever they might be, in the central desert expanse of Australia, in the Amazon basin or in the New Guinea highlands. These elements bear the desecration of the American chemical and petroleum industries around the world. It does not matter in the slightest whether or not we have been blessed with either private or collective visions of the Apocalypse, it is falling down around our ears: for all of us. The poor aboriginal trying to exorcise demons with his churringa, somewhere west of Alice Springs has no idea that he is being slowly murdered--not only by pollution of Earth, Water and Air, but most terribly also by the fourth element of this primal mandala: Fire.
The corruption of Fire, (originally and ultimately, through energy of the sun, representing our roots in the principle of Life itself, whatever the name we give to Her, It--Prakriti, Anahita, Aphrodite, Europa, Demeter, Isis, Sakti, Kundalini, Zap!) the corruption wrought by the unhealthy and imbalance of our brother man, and visited upon all the rest of us, is in the form of forest fires, and smoke and smog, and napalm (why don't people talk much about napalm anymore, as if it weren't still being used?). But corruption, contamination, desecration, pollution, poisoning, death and damnation by Fire, in an aspect as malevolent as Kali or Ku Kaili Moku, as total as Nirrti; Radiation is the most imminent destructive or purifying force.
As a vehicle of total enlightenment cooking food uses the element of fire with all the equally powerful and pervasive force of life affirmation. Something of a tantric principio oppositorum on this level could be discovered in the attitude toward preparation and serving food of the Diamond Sutra, I suppose, to the degree that any spiritual and psychic intensity of the above bullshit statement could be tasted (smelled, seen, etc.) in the food itself. Nevertheless, there have been times when we have thought about our food at such moments, growing the greens for GADDO GADDO in our organic vegetable garden at our ranch in the Napa Valley.
The degree to which enlightenment by any vehicle might contribute to the enlightenment of all is as yet uncertain, if only because it is as yet unattained. Such, anyway, would be the amusing metaphysical stance of the philosopher of tantric cuisine who hoped to turn people on, to get them high, to help them on their several paths toward their several relative stages of enlightenment through the yogic discipline, or metaphors, of loving, joyful, ecstatic, eucharistic food. In harmony with the tantric tradition the Diamond Sutra (with most of its loose and growing family/tribe) prefers the 'Left-hand Path": the confrontation with experience and acceptance of it, the pathway of life affirmation, taking the trip. Where the 'Right-hand Path' is one of asceticism, mortification of the flesh, restriction, authority, control and denial of experience, in contrast the Tantric yogins in India, for example, will eat beef (the sacred cow of the Hindu--and indeed highly respected by Islam as well), drink wine (ritually and righteously--sharing levels of consciousness, perhaps with Hassidic Judaism and later Dionysiec cult practice), and perform in the temple ritual sexual union, Maithuna, with a woman (mudra) who must be "chosen according to established rules, offered and consecrated by the guru, must be young, beautiful, and learned. The Diamond Sutra does serve beef upon occasion. There is a possibility that we will be able soon to serve wine--if and when it is appropriate for a particular dish. And of course young ladies both beautiful and learned are particularly welcome. It is so much fun this way, whether no consciousness can be truly enlightened until everything else is as well--or, all enlightenment contributes to the enlightenment of all.
What you do is tear up the cold crisp salad greens; keep them chilled. In a saucepan, melt some butter (a quarter-pound cube will do for eight or ten salads--use safflower oil margarine if you don't dig the fruit of the sacred cow). In the melted butter--before it burns--spoon in some peanut better. Go Crunchy; it gives the dish a more interesting textural contrast. The PB will melt in with the butter, but will thicken to a stiff paste and brown, changing the flavor (though not 'ruining' it) if cooked too long--whatever "too long' could mean in such a context. A good peanut butter is available freshly ground at the Farmer's Market sometimes. Stir in a little sambal olek or sambal badiak (ground capsicum with fried onions)--available at delicatessens carrying Indonesian foods and, for example, at The Cannery. A little salt on the greens. Pour the hot mixture from the saucepan over the greens. Garnish with chopped green onions, parsley or cilantro. You might also add little bits of something sweet. Golden seedless resins sauteed in a little butter until they puff up into marbles--or, candied kumquats, finely chopped in Cointreau are both mindblowers.