If I were stranded on a desert island and could
only take 6 food ingredients with me, what would I
Strangely, I’ve been pondering this question
lately. Why? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s the
universal transformative time we’re all a part of.
Or the fact that I’ll soon turn 40 and feel its
approach as an important call to grasp life by its
horns and move forward stridently. Or perhaps the
prevalence of television shows focused on being
stranded on an island (though, truth be told, I’ve
never watched a single episode of one).
Whatever the reason, I’ve been thinking about
this question lately.
What 6 food ingredients would I take with me if
stranded on an island?
Why 6 and not 5 or 7? Why 6 and not 2 or 10? I’m
not sure. But, 6 has a nice feel to it. In
Chinese, the word six is “liu” (pronounced like a
quickly slurred “Lee-oh” on an uphill climb). And
another word in Chinese with the same
pronunciation but different meaning is the word
that means “to flow”. As in, to be in the flow of
life. Abundance flowing into one’s life. And so on.
So, in Chinese, the number six corresponds to good
things coming into one’s life.
What 6 ingredients?
3. Brown rice.
4. Black beans.
Ah, but the sixth? I arrive easily at these first
five. On any given day in our house we have these
ingredients. There is almost always a freshly made
pot of seasoned black beans and freshly cooked
brown rice. While not always perfectly ripe,
avocados sit in one of the bowls or baskets in our
kitchen. Either the hand-carved wooden bowl we
purchased on the island of Zanzibar on our
honeymoon to Tanzania. Or, the dark woven basket
that sits on the black shelves against the bright
And, onion and garlic? I can’t imagine cooking
anything without them. Even though the Buddhist
diet discourages them as inciting the sexual
nature, I simply find them to bring delicious and
almost essential flavor to any dish.
Avocado? So creamy, so nourishing, so healthy.
And oh how I wish I lived in a climate where the
avocado grew right outside my back door.
If someone dared me to live a locavore diet,
focusing solely on what grows or is raised within
a 100-to-150 mile radius around my home, I would
clearly be in despair.
The sixth ingredient? It varies by the day and
the season. Sometimes I simply add salt. Not
really a food, but an incredibly important
ingredient in preserving food. Other days I pick a
practical fruit like banana or apple. Sometimes I
entertain the idea of picking a type of animal
protein or fish, but one never makes my imaginary
list. Finally, I settle on fresh water.
It’s not a food, I know. But, if I were on an
island, I’d most likely be surrounded by salt
water (though I do know there are islands in the
middle of large bodies of fresh water).
Without water, I’d be lost. After fresh air,
water is the second most important nutrient for a
human being. Heck, a living creature of any kind.
And so the list is final: onion, garlic, brown
rice, black beans, avocado, water.
How about you? What’s on your list?