Book review: The Complete Tassajara Cookbook: Recipes, Techniques, and Reflections from the Famed Zen Kitchen (Edward Espe Brown)

Via Todd Mayville
on Nov 19, 2009
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There are many cool things about being a book reviewer. One of them is that from time to time, I get a cookbook to look over and review; as an amateur foodie and person who generally loves to cook, this is a super great perk… especially if it’s one of the more useful and interesting cookbooks.  The Complete Tassajara Cookbook (named for the Zen Buddhist meditation center in California) definitely falls into that category.

While the book contains a collection of recipes like every other cookbook, this particular cookbook encourages the reader/cook to go beyond the recipes: to experiment and play with them in the spirit of love of adventure in cooking.  Scattered throughout the book are various anecdotes and reflections on cooking and the process of spiritual and personal development through time spent in the kitchen.  The book reads as much as a script from a (good) cooking show as it does a standard collection of recipes and how-to’s.

For the new (or even not so new) cook, there is a complete section on tips and techniques for everything from knife care to cooking techniques to working with various, specific ingredients. The recipes themselves (all vegetarian) are nicely simple and easy to follow, and I have to say that the results are pretty tasty. This is definitely a cookbook that should be on any cooking enthusiast’s shelf, vegetarian or not; it’s definitely going on my top books of 2009 list.  From Shambhala Publications and available from your local, independent bookstore. (Shop independent, shop local, and tell ’em you saw it on Elephant Journal!)


About Todd Mayville

Todd is a single dad of four diverse and lively kids, and is an English teacher and climbing team coach at a local public high school. A rock climber, cyclist and avid reader, Todd also practices yoga and meditation as often as he possibly can, which helps him stay at least a little centered and sane.


5 Responses to “Book review: The Complete Tassajara Cookbook: Recipes, Techniques, and Reflections from the Famed Zen Kitchen (Edward Espe Brown)”

  1. Andy says:

    Nice. I've been looking for a C-Book like this. Bought it! (from Shambala)

  2. Cary says:

    Is this a new book or just a newly packaged version of the Tassajara's bread and recipe books? I have the originals, and love them, so will not need the newly packaged version. For those who missed those earlier books, buy the new one, for sure!

  3. Chad Henry says:

    Oh, I should remember that the fans are always nearby! Clearly I admire the Ed's cooking since I own all his books. He himself has talked a lot about his anger issues. I should have used a gentler term than "wack (whack) job to describe him; he's just so emotionally uh volatile I guess, swinging between giggling and weeping in the space of a few minutes. Sometimes I find him a little hard to watch in the How To Cook Your Life movie–probably he comes off better in a real life situation.

  4. […] as muffins, a variety of desserts, butters, and frostings, this book is the perfect companion to The Complete Tassajara Cookbook, which I reviewed not too long ago (click on the title for its review).  Complete with beautiful, […]

  5. […] The Complete Tassajara Cookbook by Edward Espe Brown.  I said it before and I’ll say it again: this is a must have for any […]