food philosophy from alan watts

#5 in an eclectic collection of notable noshes to whet your appetite and brighten your day.

via Chiot’s Run


The one absolutely essential requirement for the art of cooking is a love for its raw materials: the shape and feel of eggs, the sniff of flour, or mint, or garlic, the marvelous form and shimmer of a mackerel, the marbled red texture of a cut of beef, the pale green translucence of fresh lettuce, the concentric ellipses of a sliced onion, and the weight, warmth, and resilience of flour-dusted dough under your fingers. The spiritual attitude of the cook will be all the more enriched if there is a familiarity with barns and vineyards, fishing wharves and dairies, orchards and kitchen gardens.


~ from the food essay, “Murder in the Kitchen,” by Alan Watts, first published in Playboy Magazine (1969), included in DOES IT MATTER?: ESSAYS ON MAN’S RELATIONSHIP TO MATERIALITY (New World Library, 2007).


♥ Read Jaime O’Neill’s article, “For the Love of Food,” to learn more about “Murder in the Kitchen” and its relevance today.

♥ Longer excerpt from the essay here.

♥ Big thanks to Jinx Stapleton Watson for sharing the excerpt!

♥ More Tasty Tidbits here.

Watts was a British philosopher, editor, writer and lecturer most widely known for his teachings on Eastern philosophy. He was also a sensualist who enjoyed cooking for the likes of Timothy Leary on his houseboat in Sausalito.


Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

8 thoughts on “food philosophy from alan watts

  1. Dear Jama,

    I love your surprises.

    If I had not known the name of the author, I would never have guessed that the “old hippy” (for that’s how I remember Alan Watts) would have written such a wonderful and straight-forward essay on what nourishes us.

    Thank you.



    1. Full credit must go to new friend, Jinx Watson, who has this quote on her refrigerator. I was not familiar with the old hippie before now, and was motivated to purchase Does It Matter so I could read his other essays. 🙂


  2. That’s so lovely! I think that’s how Bob is when it comes to food. He can’t decide what he’s cooking for dinner until he sees what’s available at the markets – he touches, he sniffs, he tastes – and he becomes inspired. And he loves growing things in our garden. (I say “our” but I don’t do much with it – it’s his baby.) 😉 Now I’m hungry!


  3. I LOVE this! How wild that it was first published in “Playboy.” You’ve given us much “food for thought” today. 🙂 Thank you for sharing! Great post!


    1. I used to subscribe to Playboy for their great articles and interviews (if I were male, you’d perhaps not believe me :)). Never saw this particular essay, though. Love its timeless relevance.


  4. Jinx is full of good stuff, is she not?
    What a beautiful, beautiful photograph – I should take a picture of D.’s hands when he’s kneading…


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