Ayurveda, Raw Food and to Ghee or not to Ghee
Bali is one of the most amazing places to live for lovers of food and for those who love food as a life source. Where else could you introduce yourself to a community by posting “I am coming to Bali, I am a fruitarian and need accommodation” with such confidence?
True, food is a toothsome discussion everywhere. The Italians are in a league of their own for sheer reverence of food; a passing query I made in a Roman delicatessen about whether a certain pasta sauce is best made with pecorino (sheep cheese) or parmigiano disabled the shop for an hour as even the busiest and most reluctant customer was drawn into the discussion by an outrageous claim made by the other cheese camp. But the essence of the discussion was about taste; how well the consistency, aroma and flavor of a particular cheese merges with pasta (of course distinguished by fresh pasta, dry pasta, egg/no egg and shape).
In Bali discussions are more likely to turn around what foods, in what combinations and with which methods of cooking deliver the most nutrition. One issue puzzles me; how to reconcile Ayurveda with its ancient vedic wisdom pointing towards a predominance of cooked foods to balance the doshas and the Raw Food proponents who consider cooked food to be dead food. Both Ayurveda and Raw Food advocates nod sagely and reasonably about balance, adaptation to individual body types and exceptions. However after all the reasonable sage nodding is done, there remains a very fundamental difference in their approach on how best to nourish the body. Certainly in deciding on whether to ghee or not to ghee it all gets very complicated.
Ghee, central to Ayurveda, is butter that has been simmered and ‘clarified’ into a pure concentration of fats without any milk residue. It has no need for refrigeration and can last a long time. In the Himalayan village I lived in for a year families kept very old ghee in small pellets to be taken as ‘aspirin’.
Ghee is considered to have the following main health attributes:
- omega 3 and omega 9
- essential fatty acids
- vitamins A, D, E and K
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid
- 9 phenolic anti-oxidants
- the capacity for deep lipid nourishment
Paraphrasing the science, the message seems to be that ghee is the golden chariot that will deliver the minerals and vitamins from cooked food deep into your cellular structure.
So, to ghee or not to ghee?
I take a bite of ghee soaked toast and close my eyes waiting to see how Raw Food and Ayurvedic wisdom balance out in my body. Maybe it is the timing or my body type but what comes to mind was something Tom Robbins wrote about mayonnaise – I adapt it here for ghee because his words seem so perfectly apt: “ghee is the boon that combines humanity’s ancient instinctive craving for the cellular warmth of pure fat with the modern romantic fondness for complex flavors, ghee projects the luster that we astro-orphans have identified with well-being ever since we fell from the stars.”
I am happy with my self-diagnosis: I am a fat craving astro-orphan wanting to generate cellular warmth! For the more driven nutritionists there is of course much more to learn about Ayurveda and Raw Food and Bali a great place to explore how to combine these wisdoms for optimal health.