Teaching and staying at the North Cascade Institute's Environmental Learning Center is a feast for all the senses, beginning with the dramatic visual setting on Diablo Lake below Colonial Peak and Pyramid Peak. And then there is the marvelous food prepared by the talented chefs, using as much local produce as possible. Chef Mike Cuseo, whose cuisine comes from the heart, created these still lifes in the dining hall for the artist groups that I worked with, to delight our eyes as well as our palates. To the left there is a curry leaf, a precious jar of saffron, ginger, lentils and a chile pepper. This was our prelude to a wonderful Indian meal.
To the right is his still life preamble to a lively breakfast of huevos rancheros--red onion, tomato, egg, green onions, cilantro and black beans. All of us appreciated his care in preparing the delicious meals. At one meal he spoke to us about the Institute's philosophy and practice of cooking for all the groups who study, play and learn at the Learning Center. In essence, he told us that for him and for the Institute, food does so much more than provide calories for our bodies--it is an emanation of culture and reflects choices that instill values, preserve the planet and enhance life.