FOOD FOR THOUGHT: the power of 5!

i was first introduced to the power of five philosophy in my early twenties while doing some random reading and it's stuck with me since! the 5 form the basis of concepts that have been around for centuries in various cultures and these guidelines, in my opinion, do in fact improve health and cooking moreso than simply following diets and/or recipes. after all, i'm a believer in that anything in moderation isn't bad for you.

the 5 senses food should be enjoyed with all five of the senses: taste and smell... sight, which in some cultures is just as important as taste. its the artful arrangement on appropriate tableware that can add so much to the enjoyment of the meal and enhance the entire experience.
touch is also important; especially the texture of the food itself, which should be varied... as well as the tableware it is presented on as it is customary to hold vessels and utensils in your hands.
hearing, while being a bit more obscure, also figures in! for instance, to give due respect to the chef, a quiet atmosphere is appreciated, so that you really appreciate the marvelous experience!

the 5 colors the prevalence of the five colors – white, black, red, green and yellow – has been a tradition in many asian cultures since buddhism arrived from china in the 6th century. it is believed that all five colors be incorporated in every meal. while i dont always follow this, i do find that following the five colors rule does indeed boost the nutritional value, as well as the visual enjoyment of the meal. bento, for instance, includes white rice with black sesame seeds, a red umeboshi, a slice of sweet yellow omelette, and green beans with black sesame sauce. being mindful of this practice will help you serve balanced meals with the proper vitamins and minerals.

the 5th taste salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and… umami. recently, much fuss has been made over umami, touted as the fifth taste. umami comes from the japanese word umai, meaning delicious, and can be described as savory. it infuses everything it touches with a full-flavor deliciousness.

the 5 ways the preparation of the dishes is also important, and here, there are also five methods: raw, simmered, fried, steamed and roasted or grilled.
as a child, my mum always prepared several dishes... it didnt make a difference if it was breakfast, lunch or dinner. there was always a subtle flavored/textured boiled or blanched greens dish... or alternatively a delicate soup of simmered meat and vegetables.
from there, the flavors and textures just get progressively more substantial; perhaps some crispy porkchops, or grilled fish, etc.
at the same time, the meal is neutralized with - a common staple in asian households - steamed rice. and dessert is sometimes served as well. always light; perhaps a slice of cucumber lightly dressed in palm sugar!
it wasnt until i was aware of the power of five that i began to realize this progression of flavors and preparation methods has been ingrained in me since childhood... and that it was surprisingly similar throughout the world, naturally observed in many asian cultures.

the 5 attitudes more esoteric are the five attitudes in the partaking of food. these come from the buddhist faith, and provide the foundation for the japanese attitude towards food by cultivating a spirit of gratitude.

- i reflect on the work that brings this food before me; let me see whence this food comes.
- i reflect on my imperfections, on whether i am deserving of this offering of food.
- let me hold my mind free from preferences and greed.
- i take this food as an effective medicine to keep my body in good health.
- i accept this food so that i will fulfill my task of enlightenment.

...all this was triggered because i wanted to share my breakfast :) on the up side, theres nothing better than great food with a side of intellectual substance to start my day!


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