This evening I attended a lecture by my teacher, Bir Krishna Goswami, on a fascinating topic - that of the archetype of the hero and his or her journey from a mundane situation, through an adventure of unknown lands and experiences, only to return to the world of the familiar, a changed person, equipped with boons that benefit the world at large. This journey was codified by Joseph Campbell, the world-renowned mythologist, who combed the mythologies of the world's great cultures, in order to distill from them the universal archetype of heroism. One of his most famous books, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, happened to find its way into the hands of George Lucas, thus heavily influencingthe creation of the most successful series of movies, ever. (Yep. You know I am talking about Star Wars.) Interestingly George Lucas and his "Yoda," Campbell, did not meet until many years after the original trilogy of movies was already produced. If you are interested in tangents, this is a fascinating article about the meeting of the two, their ensuing friendship, and Campbell's reaction to the Star Wars trilogy.
Now, being that Campbell had thoroughly studied all the world's mythology, he was certainly familiar with the ancient epics of India, namely the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Tonight's lecture highlighted the fascinating parallels (and there were many) between the characters and themes of Star Wars and the Ramayana, which dates back beyond written history in India.
No wonder a significant portion of
the Earth's population has been caught up in Star Wars mania. The movie capitalizes on the most fundamental, time-tested themes of a universal hero and his quest through the darkness within and without, the quest to become something greater than before and save the world at the same time. (photo tvtropes.org)
Then the speaker brought the topic home, way down home for each one of us. This hero is not just meant to be the odd one out, a singular occasional character. No, the Universe is hiring heros, and there are kind of unlimited positions available. Our individual journey would look, well individual, and yet the priniciple remains the same for each one of us. Quoting Campbell himself, our personal journey begins with being "...willing to let go of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
Crap. I hate when that happens, don't you? When you painstakingly craft plans and fantasies for the future, and the hand of Fate comes sweeping down across the chessboard of your life and rearranges (or removes) the pieces?! Then the only thing left to do is to exercise the only thing we really are in control of - our choice. We can choose to cry and throw a tantrum (my general response of choice) or to gracefully accept the new look of the playing field. Maybe I am the only one that struggles with grace & acceptance...? ;-)
This Week's Menu: Entree #1 - Zucchini Kofta in Coconut Tomato Sauce So most of you know the drill by now. Kofta is a two-syllable way to say "just about the most delicious thing you have ever put in your mouth." I am not sure if it is the fresh veggies, or the spices, or the coconut milk/tomato sauce combo, or the frying of the kofta (frying always=naughty flavor boost), or just the amazing synergy of all of the above, that gives this dish its inexplicably attractive flavor. Regardless, you might want to order a double serving - one for dinner and one for the freezer because this won't be coming back around for another 6 weeks. *GF, soy-free
Entree #2 - Sambar South India is beautiful, or at least it was back in 2001 when I was there last. It was in general, cleaner, more orderly, more intact than North India seemed to be. Everywhere you looked there were temples with mind-blowingly intricate hand-carved decorations, doorsteps with traditional rangoli paintings on them, freshly done each morning by ladies with jasmine and mogra flowers in their hair. The only thing that I couldn't find when I desperately wanted it was vegetables. South Indian cuisine has plenty of rice and beans, prepared in a wide variety of ways. But vegetable curries are more of a North Indian specialty. As we were already working with a salad moratorium (just don't even think of eating raw in India) I learned to look forward to the Sambar each day because it would always contain some sumptuous veggies along with the toor dal and tamarind that I love so much. *GF, soy-free
Entree #3 - Sita's Wedding Soup It has been a while since we pulled out this creamy, mild, rich, come-home-to-your-momma soup. A friend of mine Sita and her fiance asked me to make a cream of cauliflower and celery soup for their wedding. Hmm. Okay, I had never heard of said soup, but it sounded like it had potential. Well, there was a reason I had never heard of a soup like this. I couldn't find a recipe anywhere on the internet, so we worked on one together. Ba-Zinga! I get a recipe for my cookbook (just now coming) and she gets to have her name in the title forever more. *GF, soy-free
Roasted Pappadam -$1 ea. Oil-free, guilt-free Indian "chips" made from protein-rich dal beans and spices. Thanks to my awesome gas stove, these are roasted over a flame, rather than fried. *GF, soy-free
Chocolate Tofu "Creme" Pie - $4/slice. Nothing says Valentine's like chocolate. No matter how many times I make (and eat) this pie, I never cease to fall in love with it. Thick and rich as all get out, this pie lives on the far side of mountain of awesome. *GF
Chocolate Lava Cakes - $4 or 2/$7. Nothing says Valentine's like chocolate. Oh, shoot! I already said that. I guess you can tell in which direction my sweet-tooth weakness leans. I made these recently as an experiment and OMG, I just can't bring them back fast enough. They are dense, moist, nutritious, velvety, chocolaty, and oh so giftable (unless you have trouble sharing). In that case, you might want to go for a double. *GF, soy-free