Cooking with Monks In an Eight Hundred Year Old Monastery in Catalonia, Spain

The photographer Kristin Teig and I visited a monastery in the Padres Mountains of Catalonia, Spain for our monastery cookbook.

In spite of the winter chill in the air and the snow that eventually shrouded the vineyards in an icy white cloak, the monks we cooked with were warm and welcoming.

One of the monks from Bolivia founded a culinary school for disadvantaged youth in the region and another tends to the monastery's vast garden where vegetables have been grown for over eight centuries. 

The younger monks share a tremendous amount of responsibility. There are chickens to raise, almond, peach, apple, plum, and hazelnut trees to tend to, bread to bake, berries to harvest, pickles to put-up, wine to age, herbal liqueur to infuse, olives to press, and cooking to be done for the twenty-eight monks who live at the monastery. 

There's a vitality and gratitude permeating everything that is done within the building's ancient walls. The monks gather in the church to conclude each day with Gregorian chanting and then in peaceful silence they head to bed, ready to rise with the sun for a fresh new day in Catalonia.