The Forrest And The Trees

I’m often asked, when speaking of the paramount virtues of Simplicity, “What about Indian food”.

The three ingredient recipe is the model of simplicity. It could be Peanut Butter, Jelly, and bread, or pasta with cheese and butter. But another sort of simplicity is expressed in the extremely complex cuisine of India, and it corresponds in an interesting way with other aspects of Indian culture, in particular, the music, (and if you’ve ever been in a New York Taxi, the driving).

An Indian Curry may have twenty ingredients, and yet they combine seamlessly into a dish with a coherent effect on the palate.

Why is there no conflict?

It’s analogous to the Indian instrument, the Sitar. With nearly two dozen strings, the Sitar may seem extremely complex; its sound certainly is. These strings, however, follow rules of harmony and are tuned differently depending on with the raga played.

Some strings are drones, or sympathetic, strings, which follow, passively, the notes played on the main stings, to create a single harmonic

Billions Of Unique Grains Of Sand Combine To Form A Simple Dune


This subtle strategy for employing many ingredients allows not only staggering complexity, but enforced harmony. A truly great achievement.

It’s also notable that Indian musicians, among the greatest in the world, do not read music, and the cooks, among the greatest as well, rarely work from recipes. It’s as though the ultimate complexities are created directly from the deep parts of the brain without passing through the more boring interface of consciousness.


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