How to Cook Your Life

Cook and Zen priest Edward Brown is profiled in this documentary by German filmmaker Doris Dörrie (Enlightenment Guaranteed). Dörrie follows the witty, pleasant Brown as he offers cooking and life lessons in Buddhist retreats in Austria and California. A somnolent voice of wisdom, Brown speaks very slowly and probably has more intense emotions bottled up than Dörrie allows (as hinted by some brief moments of Brown expressing irritation over poor spinach preparation and the like). His gentle mockery of macrobiotics is especially funny. Dörrie gradually expands her field of interest from Brown's valuable ideas about respecting what we cook and eat to scenes of other people interacting with food. An organic farmer admits to using fertilizer made of ground-up bone and blood because absolute purity is impossible; a San Francisco Dumpster-diver shows us how she never pays for what she eats (premium ice cream aside). Foodies and ordinary folk alike should enjoy this educational feast; and besides, the salads look delicious.

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