Monday, November 23, 2009

Third brain at work? It's the wonder of culinary arts

Culinary arts: from the right brain or the left brain?

The sometimes complementary, sometimes conflicting results that come from using one's right brain or left brain don't go far enough to explain the quest to understand the culinary arts.

The transition -- or, perhaps, it's a transformation -- under way in my life as I delve deeply into culinary school and the bigger picture of food as the source of life, culture and a constant striving for survival is best explained by what might be called a third brain that centers on spirituality rather than the intellectual and creative aspects of the left and right brains.

It takes faith to accept that idea. Nothing else will do, because even at my nascent stage in the process, I know that there really is no understanding it. Chef instructors with decades of experience make reference to the magic, the wonder, the beauty of how food is transformed in the preparation. Nothing can explain that except the spiritual.

Or, as the 13th century Persian poet Rumi put it, one must "surrender to the wonder." My loving, patient wife (photo above right) shared this with me from Rumi as a continuing part of her unflinching support for my culinary and life's pursuit:
The intellectual quest is exquisite like pearls and coral,
But it is not the same as the spiritual quest.
The spiritual quest is on another level altogether.
Spiritual wine has a subtler taste.
The intellect and the senses investigate cause and effect.
The spiritual sense surrenders to the wonder.

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