Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

Something Fishy Going On

So I walked into the kitchen one day recently, and was almost bowled over by the stench in there.

“Damn, Zen Master, that stinks!”  I said as I pinched my nose closed with my fingers and approached him.  He was standing by the sink, washing something God-awful.  “What are you doing?”

“It is smelly, isn’t it?”  Zen Master grinned at me.  “I’m going to pan-fry some fresh sardines.”

“Why?”  I asked as I peeked over his shoulder into the kitchen sink.  “What are you making?”

“Soup base.”  He replied simply. 

Turns out that Zen Master was going to pan-fry these sardines and then dry them out.  When we make soup, these morsels will be added to the soup base, enriching its flavor.

We usually just buy the dried sardines from the store, but Zen Master wanted homemade instead.

So after he cleaned out the innards from these foul-smelling things, he threw them onto the dutch oven and slowly cooked them.

And after awhile, the putrid, fishy smell gave way to something really tantalizing that had me mmmming.

Which prompted Zen Master to tell me about a story about Guan Yin.

According to folklore, raw fish was quite putrid smelling and very quick to spoil once caught.  Because the fish spoiled faster than the villagers could cook it, the people starved to death. 

So Guan Yin graced the fish.

The Chinese translation of what She said in gracing the fish is completely paraphrased here, since I’m no scholar:  the foul-smelling stench will become aromatic and fragrant when the fish is cooked. 

And the people didn’t starve as they now had food to eat.

“Is that really true?”  I asked Zen Master as I sniffed the yummy yummy cooked fish.

He only gave me a dry look.  “It’s called a folklore for a reason, you know.”


Methinks something fishy is going on here.

Get it?

Something fishy?


Anyone out there?

Sally in the Zen, I am; therefore, I must pun.

Thank you very much.

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