What did David and his monks eat?

David and his monks were vegetarians. The food they ate was very simple - bread cooked with herbs and sometimes onions, leeks or garlic. The drank only water. Those who were ill or elderly were allowed to have a little fish. Eating meat was forbidden. The monks followed a strict timetable and meals were served at the same time each day. Eating between meals was not allowed.

Hundreds of years after David died, one of the Bishop of St. Davids, a man called Bishop Morgeneu, was killed by Viking raiders. Many people believed he was killed because he had broken David's strict rules about living - he had dared to eat meat!

Not all monks had to follow such strict rules. Many monasteries allowed the monks to eat soup, fish, eggs, peas or beans and perhaps cheese or fruit. They would also be allowed to have beer or wine with their main meal. They were allowed to eat meat from birds such as chickens, geese and pigeons. On feast days they had a special treat, such as pork or bacon. This would be paid for by a friend of the monks. The special treat was known as a pittance.

The cellarer was responsible for looking after the food and drink supplies, but it was the kitchener who was in charge of cooking and providing the meals. (He was sometimes known as the refectorian). The room the monks ate in was called the refectory.

All monks ate their meals in silence. Only one person could be heard speaking; this was the monk who would be reading or telling a story about God. The monks liked to learn about God whenever they could, even whilst they were having their meals.

Whilst the monks were eating, David would stay in chapel praying to God. He ate very little, often preferring to fast.

Questions for you to answer:

1. What is your favourite food?
2. Why do you think David and his monks ate such simple meals?
3. If you were a monk would you liked to have been one of David's monks or belong to another monastery. Explain you answer.
4. What was a pittance?
5. The meaning of a pittance has changed over the years. Look in a dictionary to find out what the word now means and write down its meaning.
6. Why do you think David preferred to stay in the chapel rather than eat with the other monks?
5.. What do the following words mean?
a vegetarian
to fast
6. Which monk was responsible for providing the food and drink supplies?
7. Who cooked the meals for the monks?

Try eating a meal in silence! Can you do it?