Story by Vivienne Pearson
Ayurveda is a hard word to spell, but learning its etymology (the origin of words) has helped me find the right keys to strike. Ayu is from the Sanskrit word for life, and veda loosely translates as knowledge. The two are joined with an r to form Ayurveda – commonly referred to as the ‘science of healthy living’.
My linguistics lesson comes from Dominic Gleeson, a man who lives a peaceful existence in Ewingsdale, complete with a view of the lighthouse from his garden, and studies Ayurveda in Byron Bay.
‘What does this have to do with food?’ I hear you cry. Ayurveda has everything to do with the plate of food I taste as we talk. Over a base of leafy greens, a pakora packed with vegetables and spices shares the plate with a warming dhal, a cooling yogurt with mint and cucumber, all topped with sweet pomegranate seeds. The dish is a delight of tastes, with so many spices that I stop taking notes after cumin, ajwain, turmeric, ginger, garlic, garam masala and chili.
This is the dish that Dominic serves at his market stall that he calls The 6 Tastes. The name comes from the food element of Ayurveda. The first three tastes are those we are perhaps most familiar with: sweet, sour and salty.
The other three are those that western diets tend to dismiss: pungent, bitter and astringent.
For good health, these tastes need to be balanced, a message that Dominic is keen to share. ‘I want to teach people as best I can that the right combination of foods and tastes lead to optimal digestion and absorption, leading to longevity,’ he says. Refreshingly, Ayurveda does not consider longevity just in terms of number of years. ‘It’s about having a long and healthy life,’ Dominic stresses.
He changed his lifestyle, partly inspired by becoming a father, in order to give himself a better life. ‘My granny died at age 102 and was healthy until she had a fall, so it’s in my genes,’ he says.
Dominic started The 6 Tastes two months ago. ‘I had an idea for a restaurant but didn’t want to run before I could walk,’ he says. The market stall has been a hit with punters. ‘People know what’s good for them,’ he says of his growing loyal following. He has mainly been working Gold Coast markets but sources much of his produce locally near his Ewingsdale home, including salad greens from The Farm.
There is a whole lot more to the food side of Ayurveda than I have mentioned here. If you are interested, feel free to seek out Dominic (while enjoying his English accent) at one of his local events coming up. My knowledge of Ayurveda may still be rudimentary, but my fingers type out the letters with growing ease.
Try a 6 Tastes meal on 23 December (Red Devil Park, Suffolk Park, 3–9pm) and New Years Day (Mullumbimby Leagues Club, 3–9pm). www.bewellhealthy.com