By Andrew Jotischky

ISBN-10: 0826423930

ISBN-13: 9780826423931

How did medieval hermits continue to exist on their self-denying nutrition? What did they devour, and the way did unethical clergymen get round the rules?

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Extra info for A Hermit's Cookbook: Monks, Food and Fasting in the Middle Ages

Sample text

Clean carefully and trim off excess stalks. You should end up with shoots and leaves about 4 inches in length. Heat some olive oil in a wide-bottomed saucepan and add a finely chopped onion. When this is translucent, throw in your herbs and mix them around until they are coated with the oil. Then add about half a pint of water and a tablespoon of mild vinegar; bon viveurs may prefer to use a mixture of water and white wine. Bring to the boil and simmer. Meanwhile crush two bulbs of garlic and half a small chilli in a mortar.

S. Army Survival Handbook, there is no wild grass that is known to be harmful to humans. 12 Even a solitary grazing monk who did not wish to cook could collect grains, spread them on a rock and leave them for several hours for the sun to do its work. He (almost all the grazers known by name were men) might even mix the grains with water to make a dough, without having to infringe the convention against use of fire. There are many grasses with leaves that are not only edible but are thought to have nutritional value, and a monk who was prepared to cook grass had an even wider field of possibilities.

The monks also told James that monks in Palestine had always eaten this, in imitation of John the Baptist. Could the locusts supposedly eaten by John have instead been a wild plant? Two other intriguing pieces of evidence from western sources are also suggestive. Godric of Finchale, a twelfth-century English anchorite, is described as eating wild shoots and grasses in his hermitage in County Durham. Many hermits did likewise, so this is not in itself surprising. But Godric’s biographer says explicitly that he did this in imitation of John the Baptist.

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A Hermit's Cookbook: Monks, Food and Fasting in the Middle Ages by Andrew Jotischky

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