On Soups, Beans and Fried Cumin Seeds...
or How to Finish a Culinary Masterpiece at 3 in the morning.
Living in Reykjavík in the vicinity of what is now known here and abroad as the "Street of Divine Enterprises" has its undeniable benefits. Living around the corner of that otherworldly street, not even 50 meters away from the nearest Divine Enterprise, has in turn its superb and, until now, untold-of advantages.
The Street of Divine Enterprises is located in down-town Reykjavík and houses three Divine Enterprises, that is to say, working places which spiritual master Sri Chinmoy has inaugurated and where students of his are employed and work following his spiritual guidelines. The first of them was a health food store, "Health the Richest Wealth"; the second was a restaurant, "Ecstasy's Heart-Garden"; the latest addition to the family was "Sangitamiya - The Nectar Music", a musical instrument store with instruments from around the globe.
So it can verily be said that for the members of the Icelandic Sri Chinmoy Centre, living around the corner of this particular street, and even working in the aforementioned enterprises, is a great privilege. Especially if you try to fit two hours of selfless service into your busy schedule and don't know exactly when you might be starting… even more if it might happen to be at superhumanly early or late hours as selfless service in some New York enterprises can sometimes be.
Following the age-old Icelandic custom of leaving things for the very last moment, the latter has been the case on several occasions. In the case of the Restaurant, "Ecstasy's Heart-Garden", this became particularly true after it was decided that the best time to make a soup was late in the evening of the previous day of its consumption. Of course this decision was finally taken after long considerations and thorough experiments which finally proved that although remaining for a whole night after having been prepared, the soup's freshness would not be affected, on the contrary, it would rather be enhanced as its ingredients would have reached an ideal state of physical and spiritual intimacy and oneness, its consistency thus becoming more sound and rounded. The final decision had of course to be consulted with the head waitress, the chief cook, the menu supervisor, the manager, and finally the owner. Luckily, Icelandic population density being rather low for European standards, only one person in charge of all these posts had to be asked. Thus began the legendary period of midnight soup preparations in the Garden's history.
One of the most unforgettable anecdotes recorded during the early beginnings of that memorable historical period at the Garden has now become known as the "3 am Asian Soup Organ Delight" incident. The selfless service crew had punctually arrived at the Garden at 1am, ready to exert its expertise on an exotic Asian recipe based on coconut milk, basmati rice, tofu cubes, capsicum, coriander paste, and all the other ingredients that may not be revealed for public knowledge. The crew set itself diligently to work after a short meditation, and decided to play some spiritual organ music (most likely one of Sri Chinmoy's pipe organ performances in Iceland) at top volume to increase the level of inspiration and intensity involved in the cooking.
Two hours into the cooking procedures, at 3 am, the crew noticed that a third party had entered unannounced into the kitchen of the restaurant and was trying to communicate something to them. The figure seemed to be human altogether, it even seemed to be speaking Icelandic, and was even dressed in uniform. It was not until its third attempt, after the volume of the pipe organ performance was lowered, that the words started to become intelligible.
"Uhhh, excuse me... Excuse me!"
"Yes," the crew finally noticed that the figure was no supernatural manifestation of a culinary deity but a member of the Reykjavík Police Department, although in their ecstatic rapture of culinary artistry they were not surprised in the least, not losing their poise and hardly willing to lose their concentration, and added: "Yes? What can we do for you Officer?"
"Well, we just got a phone call from your neighbours complaining of noise at late hours of the night..."
"Oh yes. We will see up to it that it won't happen again."
So the police officer left through the main door as peacefully as it had come in - door which the crew had forgotten to lock after entering the restaurant -, without even being offered to try the Asian concoction still boiling in the pots.
The following day, neither the head waitress, the chief cook, the menu supervisor, the manager, nor the owner were distressed by the news of the official visit from the previous night. They actually seemed rather pleased to have such a colourful anecdote to share with their costumers, who in their turn were extremely delighted at the exquisiteness of the soup and its tasteful balance of inner and outer qualities, sumptuous enough to satiate your hunger, spicy enough to satisfy your palate and fulfil your appetite, light enough to leave you energetically replenished but not too full, making it one of the most memorable soups to have filled the Garden's bowls ever. There were rumours that some sort of divine intervention had acted through the loudspeakers playing that organ music during the night...
(Reykjavík, 20th June 2006)