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

By Andrew Jotischky

How did medieval hermits live on on their self-denying vitamin? What did they devour, and the way did unethical priests get round the rules?

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

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Likewise, did Athanasius really mean that Anthony lived only off bread and salt while he was Beginnings – who were the first monks? 27 holed up in an abandoned fortress in the desert? Are we really to believe that Onuphrios, the solitary monk in the Sinai peninsula, lived solely off the dates that fell, twelve large bunches a year, from his date palm? 3 These are the fundamental questions that historians have to resolve whatever the source or period they are studying. Contemporary accounts have to be understood not as objective reports of ‘what actually happened’, but as opinions and commentaries by observers on ‘what was going on’.

The length of time this will take will vary depending on the quantity and the varieties of leaves in your pot. Add salt and the crushed mixture in your mortar. Eat with flat bread, or thicken with boiled tree bark [see Chapter 3]. what they find growing around them in the wild. Writing in about AD 425, the historian Sozomen mentioned hermits taking sickles up to the mountains so that they could cut themselves plants for food, like animals at pasture. ‘These monks of Syria were called boschoi when they first embarked on the philosophic life, because they had no dwellings, ate neither bread nor meat, and drank no wine .

8 But in the semi-desert of Syria and Palestine it was always possible to find wild roots like melagria, or a variety of edible leaves. Thus, when Euthymius and Theoctistus first settled in a cave in the Judaean desert, they fed off the plants that happened to grow there. Later, in retreat from their coenobium near the Dead Sea, Euthymius resorted once again to eating meloa, a shrubby plant that grows commonly near river banks in the region. Sabas, when he settled in his cave in the wadi Kidron, was joined by other solitaries and grazers, according to Cyril of Scythopolis.

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