Chapter 46: the path to all things of creation, 7 julienne vegetables stir-fry
The next morning, Lu Anran did not relax and laze about just because it was the holidays. Instead, she woke up earlier than normal and personally cooked a sumptuous breakfast for Eldest Uncle and Second Uncle to eat before leaving.
It was obvious that Lu Family’s Eldest Uncle and Second Uncle had never expected that Lu Anran was so good at cooking. The porridge was soft and sticky and smelt aromatic and delicious. It was their first time eating this kind of fragrant and glutinous porridge. The 4 side dishes were also unique, not only Lu Family’s 2 uncles who were returning today were all astonished by Lu Anran’s skill at cooking, but also Lu Jianhao’s eyes that gleamed brightly. Once again, he was convinced that his decision was right.
After sending off Lu Family’s 2 uncles, Lu Jianhao called Lu Anran to his study room.
The study room was unchanged as before and the crystal snow globe that Lu Anran sent to Lu Jianhao was still displayed on his table.
Lu Jianhao let Lu Anran sit at one side to rest and then stood in front of his bookshelves and started searching. After a while, he pulled out a thin thread-bound ancient book. The pages on the side were yellowing and looked very old, but the book cover was protected very well. Lu Jianhao handed this book to Lu Anran.
Lu Anran received the book with both hands and read the title written in official script1. “Tao Te Ching2?”
“That’s right” Lu Jianhao said, “starting from today Grandpa will officially impart to you the Lu Family cuisine!”
“But how does Tao Te Ching relate to Lu Family’s cuisine?” Lu Anran asked, feeling confused. This Tao Te Ching she knows and heard about before, but was unable to understand how both of them relate to each other.
“How well do you understand Tao Te Ching?” Lu Jianhao looked at Lu Anran and asked, as he sat on his huge leather chair behind his table.
“Tao Te Ching was written by Lao Tzu during the period of Spring and Autumn, and mainly talks about…. Morality?” Lu Anran has only heard about Tao Te Ching, but if he wants her to present her knowledge on it, she would be hard-pressed to continue anything beyond that. In her previous lifetime, she was ignorant and incompetent, and, in this lifetime, her knowledge is only at middle school level. So, such things such as Tao Te Ching was too deep and profound for her to understand.
“You’re half right.” Lu Jianhao said. “This Taoist Scripture is indeed preaching ‘morality’ and ‘virtue’, but it not the type of morality you are thinking of. Within ‘morality’ of Tao Te Ching, there is the way of cosmic, the way of nature, and also the way of individual cultivation, in short practicing Taoism. ‘Virtue’ does not point towards the usual morality or integrity, but instead is a special world outlook. It is a method of dealing with people that a monk possesses. Tao Te Ching teaches people the method of cultivation, where ‘virtue’ is the foundation and ‘morality’ is one step higher.” Lu Jianhao was worried that Lu Anran did not understand because of her young age and so he stop and asked, “do you understand what I’m saying?”
“I understand, but Grandpa, what we are doing is cooking, and not cultivating to…attain immortality, isn’t this learned by people who wish to cultivate and attain immortality?” Lu Anran understood the relation between ‘morality’ and ‘virtue’, but she still does not understand why did Lu Jianhao take out Tao Te Ching for, is it because he wants to teach her the ethics on how to be a person?
“Morality is the foundation of all things and it’s also the source of respect in the world.” Lu Jianhao explained, “The creator of Lu Family cuisine was originally a Taoist from Zhongnan Mountains, after researching and refining according to Taoism practices, the quintessence of Lu Family cuisine was produced and passed down from generation to generation. Every generation of Lu Family disciple is required to comprehend and recite Tao Te Ching by heart.” Lu Jianhao let out a sigh. “Ai…..it’s such a pity that nowadays the entire world has changed and people’s heart has also changed.”
“The essence of Lu Family’s cuisine is morality?” Lu Anran repeated Lu Jianhao’s words, “morality is the foundation of all things…..”
“That’s right, Anran, what Lu Family cuisine asks for is to respect the original flavour of the ingredients.” Lu Jianhao said, “the seasoning and fire are all used to maximise the taste of the ingredients, and at the same time the flavour of the fire and the unique taste of the seasonings should also complement each other. They can never interfere with one another but can integrate into each other. The pros and cons in this relationship is something you are required to consider yourself and to do it perfectly without any mistakes! This means that you must be familiar with every kind of ingredients, it is only when you truly understand the ingredients, that you can cook them and become a real chef. “
“All of the flavours must complement each other, they cannot be in conflict with one another, but must integrate together.” Lu Anran frowned, this sounds very hard. Every kind of ingredients have their own flavour and to put the ingredients together, ensure that the flavours combine and still maintain the original taste of the ingredients after cooking them together. It was indeed a very difficult matter.
“The main point here is one word “realization”.” Lu Jianhao pointed towards the Tao Te Ching book in Lu Anran’s hand once again and said. “Of course, the morality of a chef is also very important, I’ll give you 5 days to memorise this book.”
“Alright Grandpa.” Lu Anran nodded.
1 隶书 (lì shū): Official script, an ancient style of calligraphy current in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D.220).
2 道德经 (dào dé jīng): A scripture written by the 6th-century BC sage Lao Tzu. It is romanised as Tao Te Ching, and pronounced the same way as the pinying. For more information read here.