Monks and Nuns

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Monks and Nuns of whatever religion, have as rich a relationship with food as does the secular world. Dietary rules, whether as harsh as the Cistercians’ or so lax as to seduce Casanova’s exquisite Sister M.M., are not in question here. Nor is the influence of their daily food on the diet of the larger community, save to mention how the Buddhist monks in China, Japan, and Korea—who did not subsist on the contents of their begging bowls in the manner of their co-religionists in Thailand and S. Asia—developed a vegetarian cusine of tremendous sophistication and humour, mimicking with tofu and pressed wheat gluten (seitan) forbidden meats in both flavour and appearance. These refined dishes and others profoundly influenced, for example, Japanese home cooking.