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Eating was another time when the monks were divided into choir monks and lay brothers, in dining rooms either side of this kitchen.All monks were allowed up to 8 pints of beer a day, they even had their own malt house for brewing which could be reached from the kitchen. As fun as it is to imagine drunken monks, the beer was very weak and known as small beer, even children drank it as it was often safer to drink than water which could easily be polluted by bacteria from humans and animals.Choir monks would only eat once a day in winter with perhaps a light supper being added in summer to reflect the extra hours they would be active and the more physical work that would need to be done like helping with the harvests. As the Cistercians believed in simplicity the choir monks originally had a very basic vegetarian diet of bread and a thick vegetable soup called pottage, meat was considered to be an unnecessary luxury. Each monk got an allowance and if they wanted to eat again they could save some for later. Later, the monks here at Kirkstall petitioned the Pope to be allowed to eat meat, this was granted so long as the monks cooked and ate the meat in a completely separate area, so they built a meat kitchen for preparing and cooking and another floor to the refectory for eating meat, which many think is a sign that the abbey was moving away from its strict Cistercian principals. Reconstructions of some of the pottery found in the kitchens is displayed in the Visitor Centre.
over 2 years ago