Notice to Cooks
Now know this that cooking is an art. It is also an integral part of esoteric training because it is a twofold means of service: service to humanity and service to the food prepared. There is no higher state than that which a man can reach: all other forms of life in this world find their possibility of reaching a higher state through their conjunction with man. The only possibility for the sublimation of some minerals, vegetables and animals in a higher state of life is through cooking. That is why the sect which has aligned itself to the great saint Jallalludin of Rum, the Mevlevis, refer to the esoteric education of the novices as cooking, and to achievement as taste.
Those who use ingredients of food without consideration of providing the best possible means of an ingredient's expression, are devaluing service, awareness and value of life. Therefore, cooking is not a mixture of ingredients, but a harmonious composition of artistic value, nutrient and transcendent, giving the possibility of the best expression to the ingredients as well as to the composition in general. It should be undertaken only in an attitude of deep respect and consideration and the full awareness of the bounty and clemency in the divine order. Note that there is no expression of the divine manifestation devoid of beauty. Beauty of taste (dhawq) is an absolutely necessary ingredient of the essential (in all senses) composition. Had it been in the divine order of things that mankind should graze, there would have been no need for cooking at all, but such not being the case it is erroneous to think that all value in vegetables is only in a raw or undercooked ingestion. Therefore, certain fruits and vegetables have to be cooked properly before they can be eaten. The human being has neither tripe nor crop, hence it is an incalculable error to think mankind could or should imitate avian or bestial mores.
Know then cooking is a responsibility in awareness wherein undercooking or overcooking is equally reprehensible and a clear oversight.
May the Himma of the great saint who was Rumi's personal cook till his death, Shamsuddin Ateshbaz Wali, be upon you who undertake to serve in this kitchen.
from Serving the Guest: A Sufi Cookbook