Despite this natural struggle for balance, however, once these opposing forces are in harmony, they form a dynamic system in which the whole is far greater than the parts. And thank goodness for that, because apparently everything from social unrest to natural disasters to personal illness, family drama, and even bad juju is due to an imbalance between yin
forces. That’s why true Taoists mindfully balance everything in their lives, thereby achieving maximum harmony and bliss.
Even when it comes to cooking, nothing is left to chance. The principles of yin
are scientifically incorporated into each dish.
Vietnam’s culinary balancing act begins as the “heating” and “cooling” properties of ingredients are carefully evaluated. For example, duck meat is considered cool, so it’s served in summer with ginger which is considered warm. Chicken– a warm food– is usually eaten in the winter and served with a sour sauce which is considered cool. From there, different spices
, colors, and nutrients align in a semi-complex matrix– like the periodic table of the elements– all in convenient groupings of five.
Dishes must not only be colorful, flavorful, and aromatically alluring, but they must be audibly interesting as well. From crunchy bean sprouts and slurpy broth to rippin’ hot peppers, zesty limes, and heaps of colorful mint, it’s a wake-up call for the senses. Even your chopsticks will feel excited to be part of the action.Five Elements:
Vietnamese cuisine also considers the natural elements
of fire, earth, water, metal and wood, while correlating to the five flavors.Five Flavors:
Spicy, sour, bitter, salty, and sweet.Five Colors:
Colors must be a vibrant arrangement of white, green, yellow, red, and black. With white rice noodles, green limes and leafy herbs, golden-yellow pickled vegetables, spicy red peppers, and black peppercorns and fish sauce– ordinary meals become edible mosaics
Dishes include a balance of carbs, water, minerals, protein, and fat.Five organs:
Last, but not least, each taste corresponds with an important digestive organ of the body– gall bladder, small intestine, large intestine, stomach, and urinary bladder.
No doubt, Vietnamese food takes the concept of a “balanced diet” to a whole new level. And with its abundance of fresh herbs and vegetables, its low-fat-high-vitamin ratio– and the fact that almost everything is gluten free– it’s arguably one of the healthiest cuisines
on the planet.