Gather round, gorditas, and I’ll tell you a tale from the dusty Southwest. Of France. Back in those days, the French had only just crawled out from the primordial kitchens of the world, and the people of the land knew little more than rosée, brioche and confit de canard. But in a little hacienda called Plum Village, all that was about to change.
One night, with the dry, west wind at his back, a stranger came into town. He was a quiet man, whose actions spoke louder than his words: actions like remaining quiet, and occasionally sneezing. He had a face like a lunar eclipse, and hands the size of gloves. He wore a sweat-stained hat that said *OJAS*, and a white apron. And in a sombrero in his hands was a pile of tortillas, glistening white as if torn from the very fabric of the sun.
Five days he stayed there, and for five days he listened to the inhabitants of the village boast of their food. The finest cuisine in the world, they said. The only cuisine in the world. He ate their brioche and confit de canard, and he never said a thing. But on the sixth day, he began to cook.
He cooked alone, for the villagers mocked him. “That’s neither brioche, nor confit de canard,” they said. But he cooked on. And as the hours passed, an enchanting odor began to dance on the desert wind. Farmers put down their tools and picked up their guitars, and the fields were filled with song. Guitarists put down their guitars and picked up their wives, and the houses were filled with dance. Dancers took off their shoes and stood on their socks, and productions were postponed indefinitely. And still the stranger cooked on, and one by one the members of the village laid aside their judgements and began to lend a hand.
He cooked on and on, and the savory smell ranged ever wider on the wind, until people from all around the world set aside their daily doings and began walking in search of the source of the siren’s song. And when they finally arrived in Plum Village, there was the stranger, ready with a dish the likes of which they’d never before tasted.
They took a taco, each and every one of them, and with the first bite they saw into the interdependent origination of all phenomena. With the second bite, they were liberated from the five hindrances and the three poisons. And with the third bite, they realized that there was more to life than rosée, brioche, and confit de canard.
And like cactus flowers after a flash-flood, the little Southwest town blossomed with new culinary creations. The Italians discovered a dish they called “pizza”.
The Vietnamese brothers discovered deep-fat frying.
And Phap Cau discovered something he called, “caviar punch”.
They were thrilled about the world that had been opened to them, but when they went to find the stranger and show him their new dishes, all they found was an empty sombrero.
And so my little enchiladas, that’s the tale of how we had an open house here in Plum Village last Summer. And to this very day in the rugged southwest of France, if your heart is pure, you may still catch a whiff of those legendary tacos on the evening breeze.
Until next time, enjoy the gallery!