[Sca-cooks] OOP: Tentative Lunar New Year Menu

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Wed Jan 21 01:42:52 PST 2009

On Jan 21, 2009, at 12:56 AM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> On Jan 20, 2009, at 6:34 PM, ranvaig at columbus.rr.com wrote:
> > I thought Buddhist Delight was vegetarian?
> <<< Vegan, sometimes not, but it's meatless, depending on how you  
> define
> meat. I was a little surprised to see the dried seafood included, but
> I gather it's pretty common both in restaurants and in monasteries to
> do it that way.
> My own (very limited) experience with Buddhist vegetarianism is that
> they're not as a rule, vehemently anti-meat, or especially militant
> about it, they just feel it's not for them, and acknowledge a place
> for meat in the average person's diet. This is why they have so many
> vegetable-based meat substitutes based on bean curd and gluten and
> such. These things can be eaten (and in my opinion, are better)
> without having to pretend they're meat, but there's a sort of
> structural serendipity to having meat in your menu in some people's
> eyes, and apparently the dried seafood is within the rule structure
> for some people.
> Adamantrius >>>
> Is there some reason that "dried seafood" is better theologically  
> for this, compared to seafood in general?

Well, okay, remember you're discussing theology. Logic doesn't  
necessarily have to be too deeply involved. But as discussed  
elsewhere, yes, my suspicion is that a small amount of dried oyster as  
a seasoning would be considered more justifiable in the eyes of some  
Buddhists than the inclusion of fresh fish. While the little animal is  
just as deceased in its dried form as it would be fresh, as a stored  
item it can be rationalized that my not eating it does not save its  
life (someone else will presumably eat it if I don't), whereas if I go  
and scoop up some oysters and eat them, I am both directly responsible  
for, and also benefiting directly from, the death of the animals. The  
best-case scenario probably involves some fisherman's wife donating  
dried oysters (or whatever) from her family's personal stores to the  
local monastery.

Another consideration is that preserved foods eaten at the New Year  
are considered by many to usher in a year of prolonged prosperity.  
This actually seems to be pretty common among the New Year's  
traditions of many cultures.

> Or is dried shrimp just easier to get?

That probably depends on where you are. In my case, good-quality dried  
shrimp are probably harder to get than good-quality fresh or frozen  
shrimp (and unless you live someplace like Louisiana, much of the  
fresh shrimp you see, even in fish markets are actually frozen and  

> Or for some reason does dried seafood work better in this recipe  
> than fresh seafood would?

It probably does work better on many levels. Not all, perhaps, but in  
general, it could be said that dried products are better for this  
purpose: not only for its more concentrated flavor (see Drakey's  
comments on that "umami" or "fifth flavor" concept), but also for the  
serendipity evoked by the fact that it's preserved, and this being  
unusually appropriate in some people's eyes for a New Year dish, long- 
lasting bounty, etc., _and_ the possibility that using the dried  
product versus the fresh might be said to remove some or all of the  
guilt factor that might be said to be connected with the hunting/ 
harvesting/ultimately killing the animal in question.

But the short answer is, yes, probably.


"Most men worry about their own bellies, and other people's souls,  
when we all ought to worry about our own souls, and other people's  
			-- Rabbi Israel Salanter

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