Gurdjieff quotes on Food & Eating & Cooking
collected by Amar Shamo
Never could you be sure how it was going to be. never was there any duplication. As he said to me
once. ıI never cook exact same dish twice. Always different." And it was so.
„Gyorgi Ivanovitch,‰ she said, „it really isnÊt necessary to kill animals to feed ourselves, is it? CanÊt we
live perfectly well on grains, milk, fruit, and vegetables?‰ „Yes,‰ Mr. Gurdjieff replied, „it is quite
possible, because everything required for the physical and spiritual life of man can be found in the
vegetable kingdom.‰ Mme N. was radiant. „You see,‰ she said to the others, „I was right!‰ „Yes,‰ Mr.
Gurdjieff added. „You would be right if our human existence was limited only to the spiritual, but it
isnÊt. Meat is necessary when there is hard physical work to be done, or in a very cold climate, or
when edible plants cannot be found. Besides, our canine teeth as well as other biological
characteristics show that our digestive system has been adapted by nature to assimilate meat. Animal
flesh provides all the substances we need, both for the intensive working of our organism and for
maintaining a normal temperature in cold climates. So, you are right, and at the same time, you are
The human organism receives three kinds of food:
1. The ordinary food we eat
2. The air we breathe
3. Our impressions.
This exact analysis shows that although the air inhaled by different people is exactly the same, the air
exhaled is quite different. By inhaling air we introduce these higher 'hydrogens' into ourselves, but if
our organism does not know how to extract them out of the particles of air, and retain them, they are
exhaled back into the air. If the organism is able to extract and retain them, they remain in it. In this
way we all breathe the same air but we extract different substances from it. Some extract more, others
And it very often happens that all these substances are spent or consumed upon some unnecessary
and, as a rule, unpleasant emotion. Bad moods, worry, the expectation of something unpleasant,
doubt, fear, a feeling of injury, irritation, each of these emotions in reaching a certain degree of
intensity may, in half an hour, or even half a minute, consume all the substances prepared for the
next day; while a single flash of anger, or some other violent emotion, can at once explode all the
substances prepared in the laboratory and leave a man quite empty inwardly for a long time or even
Not must drink before, drink after, otherwise you spoil appetite. Americans ignorant about food, not
one thing they know, not even simplest medical knowledge they have. Only one small thing they do
shows this·drinking glass of water before meals. Body work twenty-four hours to make liquids
necessary to digest food but before eating, they drink water which sucks out all these special liquids;
dissolves them and they go off and when food comes, nothing there is for it to mix with, nothing for
transformate; they eat only to make merde. Not only this they do but also they eat butter. Butter
coats the stomach lining and all the insides, and what must pass through the walls cannot pass·they
even eat chocolate before eating. Chocolate coats inside and takes away all feeling of hunger, this is
only for travellers, mountain climbers, etc., to eat only when they wish this effect when not can have
food. This is why soldiers ate chocolate during war. But Americans eat before meals, such uneducate
people they are.
Eel is not fish, is serpent, is merde. Normal man not eat such thing. For him is like oyster. Only idiot
or German eat such. For us is merde, like oyster.
Sugar gives by the way heat. Starch gives everything - body heat, material, even God thing.
Carrots I never eat. Yellow is a dangerous color·you have this understanding even about Orient.
Never I eat cooked yellow, because we not know totality of what transformate when yellow you cook.
Only fresh yellow can eat.
Man never need toothbrush. Toothbrush very harmful, especially in morning - new enamel that has
grown in night is brushed away.
Can active elements change bones? Since I have come to you, even the bones in my hands are
changed. Everyone has noticed I no longer have the same hands.
GURDJIEFF: Yes, of course. Can change even tail in man. Active element makes everything.
It is as important to compose a dish in its correctly-blended elements as a composition of music or
the colors in painting. Harmony in scale. Must have much knowledge to be a good cook. A culinary
Twice month is necessary eat pepper for disinfecting. Your doctor say not eat but each year I eat in
pepper weight of one of your doctor. I eat the red pepper.
The English don´t know how to eat: they eat to live whereas they should eat with pleasure.
Many people mentate when eat, even choose such time, and those you hinder. This is American
typicality. They have no education or even understanding of ceremony.
„In man,‰ he told us, „certain glands produce a definite quantity of substances for the digestion of
food. Suppose, for example, that the organism produces 50 grams of gastric juices, and with these 50
grams it can transform 500 grams of various foods into elements that can be assimilated by the
blood. If the organism takes in 1000 grams of food instead of 500, the proportion of gastric juice will
no longer be 1 to 10, but 1 to 20. So, heavy food, which is digested slowly, cannot be broken down
into elements that can be absorbed by the blood. Only lighter food, which can be transformed by
gastric juices diluted to a proportion of 1 to 20, will be digested.
In the laboratory of the human body, three kinds of nourishment - physical food air, and
impressions - are transformed, not only into the substances necessary for the life of the organism, but
also into subtle substances and energies with higher frequencies of vibration.
In making bread, water represents the active force, flour the passive force, and fire the neutralizing
force. Bread is the independent result, the fourth element arising from the action of these three forces.
Each of the three forces is necessary for the bread to be made; if one of them is missing, there will not
be bread. From dough treated in a certain way, you could again get flour; but bread, though reduced
to powder, could never again become flour. Once made, bread has a fate of its own.
He told us that in the East they have always paid particular attention to the refinement of food
elements. During festivals they sometimes serve meals of more than fifty dishes. The aim of such
feasts is not so much to gorge oneself under the table, but rather to sample, in tiny portions, all kinds
of variation of taste experiences.
It was surely from frozen meat, which Mr Gurdjieff refused to eat. Afterwards we always bought
chickens or meat from Jewish butchers, because they didnÊt deal in frozen meat.
„Onion,‰ Mr. Gurdjieff said, „perfect food for man. Have everything he need. Can even keep from
poison such chicken soup make.‰
In the evening Gurdjieff would invite a number of people to his apartment for supper, which he
often prepared himself. He was a superb cook, with a knowledge of exotic herbs and spices that
transformed freshly killed lamb and ordinary eggplant into haute cuisine. One of the appetizers he
often had was a salad containing all the usual ingredients - greens, tomatoes, red peppers, sweet basil,
tarragon - into which he had tumbled bottles of chutney and a species of dill pickle obtainable only
in a special delicatessen in the Bronx.
When sometimes an Eastern delicacy was brought to him, he would divide it into enough portions to
share with the others. For those of us who took part in these prolonged feasts, there was never much
sleep, but then very little was needed with the largesse of energy we received. Indeed many of us
learned that second wind was followed by third wind, and sometimes even by a fourth.
We ate in silence, then he pushed back his breakfast plate and said: "Now we can service Nature
again. You know, Krokodeel, this is what food is for, for servicing Nature. In truth we are slaves, such
poor slaves. Nature does not give this food; all his life man must work for it, and, when he eats, it is
not for him but for servicing Nature. Nature gives only one thing; he gives atmosphere, this air. This
is all he gives. For all the rest, man must work his whole lifetime.‰
If you want to make tea, perhaps I can show you how to make It.
Man should eat, not as an animal, but consciously.
When we had eaten the pink-fleshed fillets off both sides of the trout, Gurdjieff told us now to go on
to the "best part‰ · the brain and eyes in the head where most of its "active elements‰ were stored.
Very delicately he picked up one of his trout heads and showed us how to suck out its essential
matter. Some of us could follow him, some could not. Those who could not passed their fish heads
across the table to him at his request. Only parvenus · "jump-up people‰ as he called them · would
waste such activating goodness.
He also cooked like a gourmet with the knowledge of a scientist. ÂThat, special Georgian dish, little
chicken, rice and onion, must eat with fingersÊ, he would say. ÂThat, Kurdish dessert; when suitor
proposes and has been accepted, next day he sends this dish to future bride.Ê He cooked scientifically,
like a dietician who foresees the action on the organism of each dish, each flavouring, each spice.
One day I ventured a remark on this subject. ÂIn fact. Monsieur, cooking could well be a branch of
medicine?Ê which brought the response, ÂNo, medicine branch of cooking.Ê
One must not drink with food in mouth. Because alcohol noble; wants to be alone on palate.
He himself always cooked for the groups, for guests, or for just one person, with great care, with a
deep feeling of reverential hospitality, close, I felt, to a communion, without the guests being fully
aware of it.
Gurdjieff always did the cooking himself, often for over twenty people, with such dexterity, taste,
refinement, and an extraordinary knowledge of dishes from many countries, never making anything
in exactly the same way.
Gurdjieff stated that concentrated attention took a lot of energy and substances. That we should eat
the best quality foods, nutritious and rich in vitamins.