A tribute to Nina’s marvellous meals at our Bodhi Khaya meditation retreat

A buffet of warm dishes waits for us at lunchtime

In November this year, hubby and I attended a meditation retreat at the beautiful and supremely peaceful Bodhi Khaya Retreat Centre outside Stanford. (I will post some photos as soon as I have a free moment between deadlines.)

I confess that, in addition to wondering whether I would be able to cope with the long hours of sitting meditation (think of stabbing sciatica, aching knees, asleep legs), I had been very concerned about the food that we would have to eat.

I know, I know…

Really, food should be the last thing one worries about when going on a meditation retreat. One should be thinking about more esoteric matters of the spirit, such as whether one will gain great insight into the inner workings of one’s mind, or whether one will finally have a breakthrough and actually succeed in quietly and peacefully meditating without one’s mind jumping around from one topic to the next like a bucking bronco at a rodeo.

But no.

A "mix your own salad" buffet - with ripe avocadoes and yummy olives

Those noble spiritual goals were overshadowed by my far more mundane concerns about what we would be eating.

I had visionsfrightening, I tell you – of receiving a slosh of lumpy porridge in the morning, with a mug of weak herbal tea (no sugar, no milk) to wash it down. Of nibbling my way – hungrily – through a lunchtime bowl of salad with dry crackers and butter, perhaps even a square of cheese, if we were lucky. Of receiving a plate of chewy rice, with a dollop of extremely spicy curried tomato-and-lentil sauce, for supper.

And no pudding all week.


Don't you just love these spreads? Those grilled onions in the foreground were sooo sweet...

In fact, I was so anxious about the whole thing, that I secretly stashed a bag of apples, a couple of nectarines, a large glass jar filled with my favourite muesli (nut-free, soya-free, dairy-free) – and a bar of dark chocolate – in the boot of our car. Just in case! And I made hubby promise me, Promise Me, that if I was overcome by a desperate need for foooooood, we would drive down into nearby Stanford or Gansbaai for a proper meal.

It didn’t make any difference that he reassured me, repeatedly, that the Best Chef in the World was doing the catering for us. He knew, because he had previously attended a longer retreat at Bodhi Khaya. So my mate wasn’t worried. In fact, he was really looking forward to a relaxing break, in peaceful and serene surroundings, with lovely people, and nourishing food – without the responsibility of preparing any meals or washing any dishes.

I, meanwhile, was fretting about my emergency rations. Particularly that bar of chocolate. I was definitely taking that.

We're definitely not going to go hungry on this retreat!

Man, was reality ever different.

I actually have tears in my eyes when I think about the meals we ate. Yes, there are actually tears of joy and lumps of nostalgia in my throat.

Nina, Divine Nina, Nina the Heavenly Chef in charge of catering for us 10-15 hungry enlightenment-seeking souls for 9 whole days, is an absolute treasure. Not only did she assuage all my fears, and considerately take into account various food allergies by labelling potentially risky dishes, but she blew us all away with her creations. Every day, there was something different on the menu.

Look! There's even pudding! PUDDING!!!

All her dishes were home-cooked masterpieces, lovingly prepared, with the freshest ingredients (yes, we actually saw them pick veggies and herbs from the garden outside the meditation room!). All of them were delicious, eat-your-heart-out, mouth-watering, taste-bud-tickling, scrumptilicious…. there are not enough words in the dictionary to express our delight. As we trooped from the meditation room across to the dining hall several times a day, our tummies were rumbling in happy anticipation.

And I was so smitten that I took photographs of each of her dishes.

It became a bit of a running joke among the group, because I always rocked up at the dining room with my camera slung over my shoulder. (Unfortunately, due to some serious, incomprehensible, terrible computer glitch, I lost all my photos and only managed to resurrect a portion of them.)

Now let me show you how we feasted, in this Special Tribute to Nina:

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17 thoughts on “A tribute to Nina’s marvellous meals at our Bodhi Khaya meditation retreat

  1. A comment from Sher:

    Reggie–so you were allowed to talk to other participants, read, and take pictures at this retreat? Quite different from the many, many Buddhist based retreat centers here in the US. I think I could come and enjoy and relax in the retreat you went too…unless I misunderstood and it is a silent …etc. retreat….:


    Hi Sher – no, it wasn’t a silent retreat. We did, though, have ‘noble silence’ from 9pm until 1pm the next day, which made for some amusing (not entirely ‘silent’) breakfasts and tea-breaks! But the rest of the time, we were allowed to talk.

    As to not being allowed to take photographs – well, if that had been the case, I would not have gone! (Crazy, huh?) Seriously, I would not have lasted in such an amazingly beautiful environment, if I had been strictly prohibited from taking any photographs! My rebellious ‘me’ would’ve taken over! πŸ˜‰

    That said, though, I was very conscious of not taking too many pictures, and of being more patient, in waiting for a better light, or for the wind to die down, or waiting for the flowers to open, or the birds to settle… and of taking *nice* photos of the people who attended, not candid or unflattering ones. I wanted to give them copies afterwards. I always try to take *nice* photos of people, particularly when they’re feeling self-conscious or are fearful that they may be un-photogenic.

    It was actually really lovely, and very centering, to have time and space to just ‘be’.

  2. That must have been such a great experience to stay at this meditation retreat. Our mind and body needs such quiet pauses in our busy everyday life. I am curious to hear your experience with meditation …

  3. Reggie- Thanks for posting for me.. πŸ™‚ Interesting about your retreat. Ours are so restrictive–mainly not allowing reading or writing is the kicker for me… πŸ™‚

  4. Pingback: Finding Inner Peace and Tranquility at Bodhi Khaya Retreat Centre « Grains of Sand

  5. I don’t know which is the more delectable – your prose or your pictures … all I know is, I promptly nipped off to my kitchen for a snack after I’d read the post. I know from previous experience how FOOD can become the highlight of one’s day, on retreat; especially if you’re struggling with a sore body or a very restless mind. I’ve been there, & gathered many tee-shirts. Lit & met.

  6. Pingback: Are you dreaming? Or are you awake? | Grains of Sand

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