The Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo, South Africa was voted by CNN as one of the ten best meditation retreat centres in the world. This accolade not only acknowledged its physical beauty and wide-ranging programmes conducted by local and international teachers, but also the excellent vegetarian food that has been served there for more than 35 years. This food has featured in two best-selling recipe books: Quiet Food
(2005), which became more vocal in its successor, The Cake the Buddha Ate
(2011). That cake has been eaten to the last crumb, so we felt it was time to follow the ever-evolving Ixopo food story and serve up yet another course of its fine cuisine. Plentiful: The Big Book of Buddha Food
will give you an opportunity to explore vegetarian cuisine of the highest order, tried and tested in the kitchen of an internationally renowned meditation centre. We are sure that you will come to the conclusion that there is nothing humble about vegetables!
The dishes created by innovative chef, Paul Atkinson have a distinctive Mediterranean character which is expressed in the titles – Ravishing Red, Saffron and Silk, Slices of Sunshine and The Grecian Goddess – all celebrating healthy, vigorous living.
Paul orchestrates the food at the BRC with the help of the stalwarts of the kitchen, Lindiwe Ncgobo, Lungi Mbona, Dudu Memela and Nonkanyiso Dlamini.THE CONTRIBUTORS Chrisi van Loon
is a senior English teacher by profession. A vegetable enthusiast and cat lover, she was the editor and coordinator of this recipe book – as she was with its predecessors, Quiet Food
and The Cake the Buddha Ate. Louis van Loon
is an architect and structural engineer by profession who runs his own consulting practice in Durban. Shortly after his arrival in South Africa from Holland in 1955, he developed an intense interest in Buddhist philosophy, which led him to study and travel widely in the Buddhist East. He developed the property on which the BRC is established during the 1970s on a piece of wasteland that had to be cleared of acres of wild wattle, bramble and other alien vegetation and made it into the indigenous jewel it has become. Paul Atkinson
was born in York, England, and emigrated with his family to the sunnier climes of South Africa when he was two years old. An extensive tour of Europe enabled them to experience the tastes of that continent’s rich variety of foods. A chance meeting over a loaf of bread at a local café, enabled him to take on his first cooking role, working under the guidance of a highly accomplished chef, Steve Holding. The learning curve was steep, but it stood him in good stead for a promising future in cooking. Angela Shaw
works on selective photographic product-design projects from her base in Durban, KZN, where she manages the KZNA Gallery for the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts. She contributed the photographs for the BRC’s previous cookbooks: Quiet Food
and The Cake the Buddha Ate
, and so enjoyed rekindling her contact with Lungi, Dudu and Lindiwe, the stalwarts of the kitchen, and working with Paul on the third book. Fifteen years and three cookbooks later, the Buddhist Retreat Centre remains one of her favourite places on earth, where she feels nourished by the slow pace and beauty of the place, the excellent food and the meditation.