Open Sesame

Oct 30, 2023 | Mindful Kitchen Practices, Watch

Who could imagine that the little, tiny sesame seed holds the potential to unleash hidden treasures when we cook with it?

How do you use the phrase “open sesame’? Today I want to share a bit of storytelling to unlock the hidden treasures behind the words and the food…

Open Sesame, Sésame, Ouvre-toi, Ábrete Sésamo, افتح يا سمسم

Open sesame is a magical phrase that appears in the story “Alibaba and the 40 Thieves” in Antoine Galland’s version of One Thousand and One Nights. The phase opens the mouth of a cave where the Forty Thieves hid their treasure. There is still a lot of controversy about the use of the word “sesame” in the phrase but one theory suggests that as sesame seeds grow in seed pods that crack when mature it might allude to unlocking treasure.

Other theories suggest that “Sesame” is a duplication of the Hebrew šem “name”, that is, God, or the Talmudic šem-šāmayīm (“Shem Shamayim”), the Kabbalistic word for “Heavenly Name”. Also, Sesame is associated with Babylonian practices using sesame oil ritualistically.

In our modern understanding the phrase, “open sesame” generally means “please can you open this” or “open this now.” And the Cambridge Dictionary defines it as “something that makes it very easy to achieve a particular thing”.

Whatever the meaning, the magic of the phrase is that has been around probably since the eighth century and it began to be translated into different languages around 200 years ago and is widely used.

Unleash the hidden treasures

In this video, I invite you to recognize the goodness and the potential inside of the ingredients you use in the kitchen but also in every activity you engage yourself in: working, cooking, relating, playing, sleeping….

We always find hidden treasures ready to reveal their bounty as long as we are present and give ourselves fully in our ordinary days.  

The preparation in the video is a Japanese condiment called Gomashio (Goma: Sesame, Shio: Salt). It is used extensively in Japanese monasteries.

CAUTION: You can find already made Gomashio which is sold as a convenience for us. However, store-bought Gomashio has lost its goodness as the oils got rancid on the shelf, and you also lose some of the benefits of the preparation as you don’t allow your hands and your senses to create and experience the smells that come out. Convenience is not always convenient!

Remember, before starting the practice, ground yourself with two or three deep breaths. Then, start unleashing the hidden treasures of life.