Gemma's Reviews > In Buddha's Kitchen : Cooking, Being Cooked, and Other Adventures at a Meditation Center

In Buddha's Kitchen  by Kimberley Snow
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Oct 12, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: religious-studies
Recommended for: people interested in Tibetan Buddhism
Read in October, 2008 , read count: 1

Overall, this is an enjoyable book. I was attracted to the idea of reading a Westerner's view of a Tibetan Buddhist centre from the point of view of someone other than a newly ordained monk/nun, or a simple visitor.

Although I think the author has a good voice, I find myself holding back on rating this book highly due to a few issues that I find it hard to overlook. Namely, I thought her 'play', which makes up one chapter, was disappointingly racist; playing on the stereotype of the fat, black, voodoo practicing female chef, complete with broken English and stereotypical, racist 'black speech' (dis, dat, dem dere, etc).

I was also disappointed at her assumption that feminism had changed fundamentally for the worse, based on her being interviewed by three women who run the Women Studies course at a single university. Snow discusses her disappoint at how 'cold and bitter' feminism has become since her departure from her teaching days. Deciding to judge an entire movement based on one experience is irrational, not to mention disappointing considering that Snow clearly identifies as a feminist herself. It smacked a little too much of 'good feminist, bad feminist', where Snow's version of feminism is clearly the better, and the 'new' feminism is clearly the worse.

These issues aside, it's a relatively good read. I did feel I learned more about the Tibetan Centre from Snow's viewpoint, and it is an interesting one considering how many books such as this are written by newly ordained Western monks/nuns. I didn't learn anything new about Buddhism in the sense of bare bone facts, but it did provide a number of insights, and really reawakened my interest in Tibetan Buddhism.

I've been toying with the idea of going on retreat for a while, and this book has made me seriously look into it.
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