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The Warsaw Voice » Other » March 12, 2008
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Get Your Meals From Monks
March 12, 2008   
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At a time when food is pumped full of pesticides, additives and toxic metals, organic alternatives are all the rage. They're even better when they've been prepared by an honest monk under divine supervision for good measure.

The Tyniec Benedictine Abbey in Cracow, southern Poland, was probably founded in 1044. The monastery library holds a great selection of books assembled through the ages, some with culinary content. The Benedictine friars have decided to share their secrets with the world by setting up a grocery retail chain, releasing a cook book and opening a restaurant at the monastery. The all-natural delicacies on offer include mushrooms, cold meats, cheeses, and olive oil. The monastery also boasts a variety of fine preserves, meads, juices, liqueurs and wines. The most popular treats are the Brzytewka preserve (zl.10.50), the Przedsoborowa preserve containing forest fruits and bison grass vodka (zl.10.50), raspberry syrup with linden (zl.7), lard with garlic (zl.5), and naturally, Benedictine raspberry mead of the dwójniak variety (zl.49).

There are 15 shops run by Benedictines in Poland. The products are made either by the friars themselves or by other small European abbeys and low-scale, usually family businesses. The quality is checked thoroughly by the monks. Products are also available online at www.benedicite.pl. They have prepared a treat for the upcoming Easter holidays-special baskets full of goodies for companies and individual clients, whose contents can be changed freely according to preference.

The Benedictine restaurant Mnisze Co Nieco is a must-see when visiting Tyniec. The house specialties include deer roast in juniper sauce with a splash of bison grass vodka, wild boar pâté with cranberries, and St. Angela's tomatoes with goat's cheese served with a fennel essence. All the profits earned cover the community's daily expenses, as well as repair and maintenance of the buildings, such as the old monastery wing that once housed a library. Also, the Benedictines in Lubin produce an exquisite-tasting liqueur, called the Benedictine of Seven Sorrows. Composed of 21 herbs, it is made according to a recipe from the 16th century. Meanwhile, a real treat at the Franciscan Monastery in Panewniki is the Capuchin balm, known for 200 years, which is "a natural concoction that boosts the body and regulates the digestive system."

All these specialty foodstuffs are available from the Alma supermarket at the Promenada shopping mall in Warsaw, (75c Ostrobramska St.).

Joanna Matysiak
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