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Best/worst In Convent Food


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Tripe is one of those things (like eel) that you either love or hate.  I had Italian colleagues who loved to prepare and eat tripe.  Then there's the story of my father-in-law who was served tripe for dinner when he was hospitalized in England--he took one look at the stuff and tossed it out the window.:)

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6 hours ago, Pax17 said:

Tripe is one of those things (like eel) that you either love or hate.  I had Italian colleagues who loved to prepare and eat tripe.  Then there's the story of my father-in-law who was served tripe for dinner when he was hospitalized in England--he took one look at the stuff and tossed it out the window.:)

My Mum and I liked tripe.  But we had to cook and then eat after advising the household so they could make themselves scarce.

 

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  • 1 year later...
Veritas Veritas

Many years ago I entered a big monastery in Europe. Very traditional and very poor. 

One day we received a donation of over 100  live chickens.   The postulants and novices were call to help kill then and clean them.

I had a panic attack since I have been terrified of chickens and roosters  all my life.

After begging   my  mother mistress to excuse me from participating in the butchery we settle for the following: I was going to help in the kitchen cutting the legs and comb or crest of each dead chicken.

The nuns did not let any parts to go to waste since we were very poor.

The following night we had chicken comb soup with onions. That has been until today the worst soup I have eating in my entire life.

My favorite was bread soup, and Spanish omelette.   

 

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On 8/30/2018 at 2:48 AM, Veritas Veritas said:

Many years ago I entered a big monastery in Europe. Very traditional and very poor. 

One day we received a donation of over 100  live chickens.   The postulants and novices were call to help kill then and clean them.

I had a panic attack since I have been terrified of chickens and roosters  all my life.

After begging   my  mother mistress to excuse me from participating in the butchery we settle for the following: I was going to help in the kitchen cutting the legs and comb or crest of each dead chicken.

The nuns did not let any parts to go to waste since we were very poor.

The following night we had chicken comb soup with onions. That has been until today the worst soup I have eating in my entire life.

My favorite was bread soup, and Spanish omelette.   

 

It must feel horrible. It reminds me that there are no supermarkets around when I was little, so we have to clean fish and chicken by ourselves. I once decided to be a vegetarian because I simply couldn’t do the job.

Funny it seems food donations still play a big part in many old enclosed European convents even now. Luckily the monastery I was in doesn’t consume meat (and I believe our lay brothers or male volunteers would do this kind of job for us even if there is a necessity...). They are poor both by rules and in reality. There’s a family living down the mountains helps us a lot and sometimes brings in seasonal vegetables from their farm. Once they brought up a truck of fresh spinach. After boiling them all at once, I was told to put them in separated bags of equal measures and storage them in the refrigerator. They are one of our main courses for at least half a year: they will heat them up and put them straight in the food container without any seasoning, or with ketchup sometimes. Because they only have very basic seasonings so the ketchup is considered a luxury for feast days. They use it on almost everything, like, rice, cornmeal, fish, etc. During my stay, all nuns there have showed me the most ardent charity as possible as they can in silence: the cooking sister always gave me extra ketchups on my food. it’s really a mixed emotion when i find my rice is covered with a thick layer of ketchup again...too much love to swallow. Frequently we harvest veggies from a Korean sister’s green house, we eat everything from leaves to straws to roots, as while as seasonal offerings from the mountains. All are cooked with little oil and little or no salts(although there are extra salts in each room). Sometimes there are some mystical substances in the food container and soon I stop wondering what they are exactly. Three times a week we eat fish, it’s to be consumed under obedience since the Mother insisted we must get enough nutritions because “life is hard here”. There are two ways to cook fish: steamed or grilled, both with salt and sometimes fresh herbs from the garden (not always, we get lemons too). A kind of fish tastes curiously bitter after cooked. I remember our Statues especially addressed that the order has no interests on culinary art and you eat whatever you are served unless for grave reasons. I have to say that they are there for good reasons. While generally I’m fine with over-do than not well-done fish with skins still on.

I too have contributed to this food adventure: once I was asked to clean a bunch of home-grow artichokes. I have never touch them before plus language barriers, so I almost left all hard shells unpeeled. I only realized it during our common meal when I took the first bite of it myself. I looked around secretly yet no sisters including the Mother showed any emotions on their faces, they just kept eating as usual. Later I forgot to confess it in the following noviciate meeting yet no one ever talked to me about those unpeeled artichokes, but the direct result is from that day on till I end my terms, I was never asked to clean artichokes again. 

Pros: On the new year day we have fantastic Korean rice cake soup with noodles. In fact our Korean sister could cook professionally but her obedience is not cooking so we only have this kind of treats on special feasts. Also the Ukraine sister made some sort of pickles by veggies from her garden, they are also very tasty. The other good regular course is baked apple. Since we get so many of them (as the monastery actually collects its tithe by apples LOL) and when some of them turn very bad that we cannot eat them as a whole, the sister will cut out and collect good parts then bake them in the oven. We have it nearly daily. It may sounds miserable but it’s actually very good. 

The other funny fact is, although by the rule we don’t receive unrelated guests. Even if there are any, many bring in their own diets since we have little to no special storages for special guests (we increase quantity of food for male volunteers and aspirants not staying in the enclosure, also they would get food still in the preservation date). Like the account about the ancient monastery of Lindisfarne in the life of Saint Cuthbert, after prayer and necessary business, people run out before the lunch bell ring so they won’t be asked to share monks’ table (laugh).

Otherwise as I can recall, North American communities and most new or reformed communities always serve very good and well-prepared cuisines. I will say it’s hard to have “bad food” as long as one has access to the supermarket.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We always were hungry! Our community wasn't vegetarian, but we might have one small chicken (when we were festive) for 17 people. I never ate less in my life, but it all was starch, so I blew up like the Hindenberg. 

The community I entered was Italian, but they had a mission in the US, to which I was sent. (Serves me right for speaking English...) The most revolting dish they devised was scrambled eggs with chopped hot dogs. I'm still shuddering, remembering what a terrible combination that was! 

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2 hours ago, gloriana35 said:

The most revolting dish they devised was scrambled eggs with chopped hot dogs. I'm still shuddering, remembering what a terrible combination that was! 

There were times when all I had in the house was what I called "cowboy food" for the kids -- franks and beans.  I loathed it, but since I made the kids dress up like cowboys [they were small] before serving it, they really enjoyed "sitting around the campfire" in ten-gallon hats and with country music on the phonograph [remember those things?]

Where there's a will, there's a way.

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Well, since I've never been IN a convent/monastery as a nun/sister I don't know if this really counts or not, but......

I was visiting a monastery for some quiet, retreat time and to spend some dedicated time on a sensitive writing project.  On my first day, the breakfast was excellent, as was lunch.  But when the bell rang and I went to get my dinner out of the turn, I found to my horror (and disgust) that Sister Cook had made crab cakes complete with the ground up shells as a binder (instead of bread crumbs) to hold them together.  First off, I'm horribly allergic to shellfish, but I also knew the poor nuns were eating the exact same meal, most likely gagging trying to get the crab cakes to go down.  And they had to eat everything on their plates at every meal.  As a guest. I felt I had to tell them that I couldn't eat fish or shellfish so none appeared on my trays the rest of the week.  But I didn't have the heart (or guts) to say anything about the, ahem, imaginative cooking style of Sister Cook.  I've always wondered how many times she had that obedience again after that week was over :))

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