I Don’t Know Much About Buddhism but…

I’ve been using the name Bardo as a username for a few years, and it turns out that this is a word that I inadvertently borrowed from Tibetan Buddhist philosophy.

I write “borrowed” because in real life my name is Brad.

Brad becomes Bard becomes Bardo just so easily.

Yet, having used it for a while and then thinking about it a lot since, there is a significant degree of existential overlap between what I intend to write about on this site, and what the metaphorical expression of the original term loosely means.

Used loosely, “bardo” is the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one’s next birth, when one’s consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena. Metaphorically, bardo can describe times when our usual way of life becomes suspended, as, for example, during a period of illness or during a meditation retreat.

Wikipedia on “Bardo”

Given that Buddhism is a religious philosophy and not a culture, per se, I’m going to make a huge assumption and say that I don’t really view co-opting philosophical ideas and constructs as appropriation any more than trying to learn a foreign language might be cultural appropriation. It’s about communication and understanding.

And if I think about the overlap of the idea of bardo (as much as my undertrained mind can process it) as a kind of transitional purgatory between everyday life on one hand and a kind of idealized state of existence on the other…

… well, that seems a bit like a campout in the woods to me.

Why I Cook on Cast Iron (Part One)

Do you remember the first time you got the perfect sear?

I do.

We had come into a couple thousand dollars as a small inheritance. The decision had been made years prior that any windfalls like that would be rolled back into our house. It was simple: money from a family legacy transformed into value to our home.

Our choice then was to extend the gas line to our kitchen and replace the electric stove with a gas range.

We had been living the post-university student lifestyle for years at that point, but had been watching too much Food Network. The cheap aluminum frying pans were not cutting it anymore. They needed to be replaced, and I couldn’t help but notice that serious chefs didn’t cook gourmet meals over a glowing red coil burner.

Gas range installed and burning, life went on. We upgraded some of our cookware to stainless steel and expanded our repertoire of recipes. We cooked better, ate well, and thought the world of amazing food was our oyster.

At one point I had been curious about cast iron (for just a few months back when we still had the electric range) and I had fished a cheap pan from a discount rack at one of those surplus merch stores. On the electric range it was unimpressive. Couple with that the fact I had no clue about seasoning cast iron, and the whole thing was a succession of crusty messes. The pan got shoved to the back of a cupboard…

…until one particular experimental recipe we’d found specifically asked for a cast iron skillet on our new gas range.

The breaded chicken seared with a crisp, beautiful, crunch that I would have paid real money for at a nice restaurant. I had cooked it in my kitchen, with my limited skills, and I was hooked.

My cast iron mission had begun.

to be continued…