The Monastic Origins of Food and Drink

In the eyes of most, monks like California’s famous Franciscan Junipero Serra are viewed a little differently from the rest of us. Their devotion to the church and the way of life that has the church at its center is admirable, but it’s not a life most of us could see ourselves living. Like many other members of minority groups, their way of life is poorly understood, and that leads to the belief that they are very different from ourselves. The reality is that they really aren’t that much different from you and I; many aspects of their lives are quite familiar. To prove this point, we thought it would be interesting and fun to take a look at the world cuisine that has monastic origins.

A Love of Cheese

One of the world’s finest cheeses comes from Oka Quebec and it was originally created there by Trappist monks during the 19th century. This is a very distinct and flavorful cheese with a sort of nutty and fruity taste. It’s also popular because of its creamy texture that is quite distinguishable from other popular cheeses. The creation of this cheese has been credited with the establishment of Quebec as one of Canada’s, and the world’s, most famous cheese regions. If you’ve never had the opportunity to taste a sample of Oka cheese, it’s probably something you should add to your bucket list, especially if you happen to be a cheese lover.

Bring on the Wine

Burgundy in France is one of the most famous wine regions in the world, and has been home to some of the finest vineyards for centuries. This isn’t really news for most of us, but it may surprise some to find out that the for this wine has its origin in monastic culture. Monks have been making wine and refining its quality in the Burgundy region going back as early as the 5th century. It wasn’t one particular monastic order that was responsible for this, but rather a series of them. The French Revolution wiped out the ownership of these French wineries by monastic orders, but it didn’t remove their legacy or their contribution to wine culture in general.

A Beer for What Ales You

I have to admit I’m a bit of a beer connoisseur, but as much as I love a good beer I was never really aware of how much influence monks have had on the development of beer since the Dark Ages. While monks may not be associated with any particular brand of beer, many can trace their origins back to early European Trappist monks. In the 9th century monks began refining the art of beer making as a way to comfort weary travelers, and also as a source of income to keep the monasteries solvent. Over the next few centuries, these monks developed a reputation as the finest brewers around. Many popular modern beers can trace their origins to these monks, and that’s why beer lovers everywhere owe a debt of gratitude to the Trappist monks!