seasonal cuisine.heart disease heimer's among the rhood thanksto a diet . brothers and samples I for you to cook at home. austere lifestyle on an all-male Greek extraordinarilylow cancer.he monks of Mount Athos have long been known for their quiet. .

monastery .to find out . The monks are proved correct. fortress-like lT Does the secret of the Athos monks' longevity lie in relentless self-disciphe. Two grey-blue doors open on to a wooden balcony.a magnificent. The 2. called midnight office.45pm and I'm already on monastic time . somewhere in the middle ages.The life ascetic he morning is grey and wet when I present myself at the Holy Executive of the Holy Mount Athos . is at 2. a kindly 52-year-oldwho came to Athos in 1981. The day. The peninsula on which the 20 historic Athonite monasteries are set is 50km long and lokm wide. carpentry or i I . That is followed by four hours' work (each monk has a specific "obedience".or in their rustic cuisine? Stephen Moss travels to the Mount. At Iviron . a true beginning. I am encouraged to attend the liturgy.3oam. give or take the odd 4x4. with a view of the monastery gardens directly below. such as cooking. none of it accessible from mainland Greece by road. an autonomous monastic state in north-eastem Greece. and the combination of isolation and government by monks has locked it. There is a certain absurdity at the heart of my mission: I want to know how the monks live for so long and in such rude health. Father Jeremiah. for example. ready for bed. The monks assume midnight office will be beyond me. who directsme to a room on the second floor of the guest wing. tiny desk.falling asleep. an unbroken three and a half hour servicethrough the night. In winter the monks' first service. It is small but perfect: bed. and I have come to unlock its health-giving secrets.30am to 6am.steeping hunself in lentils and liturgy . plastic wastepaper bin. in a land where women are forbidden. bedside table.. attends the night. in effect. yet what preoccupies the monks of Mount Athos is their own transience. two straight-backed chairs.I am greeted at by a soft-voiced Australian-born monk called Father Jeremiah.500 rugged. pair of plastic sandals tucked under the bed. tells me he usually sleeps from iipm to zam.Pilgrims'Bureau (big name. virtually no heart disease and zero Alzheimer's. Monastic time differs from conventional time in several ways. is deemed to start at sunset rather than midnight. I am here for a permit to visit Athos. to them it is a welcome friend. It's 7. It runs into matins between 3am and 4am and the liturgy from 4. small office) in Ouranopolis. heavily / bearded monks who live here are leading / a 14th-centuryexistence. While death is my mortal enemy. forming what is. with startlinglylow levels of cancer. time s e ~ c ethen rests again before the morning meal at 9.30am. They wear black to remind themselves of their own mortality..

a small glass of monasteryproduced wine (thin-bodied. though because I am there during a religious festival . The a m is that nothing should be wasted. the reading ends. FatherJeremiah tells me later. at the head of the table. I feel I'm going to be sick. This first supper comprises a lukewarm but not unpleasant fish and rice soup. of incense . When the abbot reckons the pace of eating is slowing he dmgs a little bell and everyone files out. You have to eat relatively quickly. ' S meal at 4. instead a monk reads from The Lives of the Saints. I am overwhelmed by a sense of my own mortality and start to calculate how many hours the average person can expect to live. this number is well short of a million.These sleeping patterns would take some getting used to. I attend vespers soon after Pnivingand. A middle-aged pilgrim in a leather jacket tells me off crossing my legs during the service.a combination of lack of sleep and the smell .and slump forward in my seat. fruit.dairy is the devil). an apple and a piece o cake. for After vespers it is time for the evening meal . That leaves them with rice. brown bread. I sleep for a while between 9pm and llpm. and compline. but on fast days they also avoid fish. The monks and lay pilgrims. keeps an eye on how the diners are progressing. a small piece of fish. it's not quite two hours because halfway through I feel faint 1 . eggs. I go and sit outside for a while.4. bread. at 5pm. pasta.3opm. a small piece of pasta bake. olive oil and wine. The meal. and when he reckons the pace of eating is slowinghe dings a little bell. a green salad with olive oil. grace is said and everyone iiles out. m I . You have to eat relatively quickly . eat together in the refectory but at separate tables. who number around 20.a feast period . a delicious oatcake. then fall asleep again before rising for the service at qam. The abbot. I've only just started on the cake and f haven't even been tempted by the apple when the abbot sounds time. and wonder how the monks would react. a piece of feta. During the early-morningliturgy.are treated ss part of the service. That means that for half of the year the monks are fasting. vespers at 3pm. wake up. while the chantinghas a certain hypnotic quality. the evening . and for the first fortnight in August. a m a l l piece of feta. the post-meal service. vegetables and lentils.it was four meals before I'd worked out the correct pace . I sense they eat a lot of lentils. The morning meal is a delight: lentil soup sewed in a shallow aluminium dish. in honour of the Virgin Mary. a piece of . all dairy products. No talking is permitted during the meal. and eventually revive. They also fast for 40 days before Easter and Christmas. The monks usually fast on Mondays. In reality. I find it tough going. oily fish. a glass of wine. The brevity makes me wonder about these two hours I'm spending listening to the liturgy in Greek. : . They are convinced this is good for them. with monks processing back and forth from church to refectory.there is no fasting (thank God).30pm counts as evening. slightly sour but perfectly serviceable). yet I also know it is enough. The meals .strictly two a day . read for an hour or so. I know I'll be peckish later. was made with leftovers from that morning's special New i Year's Day meal. The monks never eat meat. expelling impurities from their bodies. regardless of the day. even if you live as long as 1 an Athonian monk. I am horrified to find that.no monkish Scrabble or charades. Wednesdays and Fridays. Ee was four meals before I'd worked out the corzect pace. an orange and a handful of crushed There is not much to do in the evening . as the bell can sound unexpectedly.&culture). brown bread (no butter .

~ o fishand rice soup . Monks at hriron preparea simple supperof r ' m ~ ~ ~ 4 a m . spinach. nobody's perfect.f a d . k b i f r u i tanorange.at crushed almonds. and &i?sapaear to be wlndiagdown erround then. I hide the followingmorning when I get the ~ f ~ t o l e a v e . but no cheese and.nwsgoodforme7 told later there should have been a flask on the We). s wash. amasathon I l k the faet there is no W. B u t i t i s o n l y e v o l v i n g t o 2. the post-meal service. CiSLHl@ndWfo~togoingbacktobed. A monk thougRtfuIlycalls at 3am to tell me the service is starting. eating a pastry and drinking a large bottle of impurities their bodies Amstel beer. A 1 1.to be washed down with f ~ o f the other pqgims. ~tassoonas~arriw. With an ~ . are from . anything is possible. Then a bell tolls and he says he has LmQlalSeshstayedmd ut ~ n s . inagbiouscrotq. no wine (thou& I am bed wine at ninein the morning and be &. and need some sleep. ie Iafrommdty. brtfoll~dayImcweupthecoastt0 Father Matthew and I talk for threequarters ped&the largest monastery on Athost at of an hour. the abbot and four priest-monksenter inglitteringred robes.30a.which ismore fonnalthan at Iviron. mainland and the influence of the Holy Mountain perhaps receding.asatIviron. and delidous oatcakes(the he) W over-fuaand where else would I get to sad-Iaokbgman next to me staffs tre.mbus.Near theend of theservice. rommunity. hour to wait for the boat back to the Greek . Again I am chastised:a Lcmkake. e monastery-bakedbread. I have to leave on the 9. The monks have somehow learned to transcend boredom. Oh well. i iwn3sthe pieh-bladccfmtymd to the church. and that you have to fall bade r on book and M-intemgwion. I head back to the port of Dafni. though.Igotoskpatupm& qith its rejectionof the ust cmtuw. cakewithahint .30pm:broad beans. and a sizeable helping of Ighehhaasmuglook. After ompliae.3oam call.it'stinrefor but I can? sleep. M y bushy-bearded Serbian a homebrewedglassof red wine t o m a t o r doesn't shcpwundljustafter5am. I have a Nescafe half of the year the monks and a pastry filled with spinach . of chocolate on top. They convinced this until I spot a young monk at a nearby table this is good for them.a kind of Greek Cornish pasty. home-grown kiwi fruits and oranges. I~theservkewlllend. W eat at 4. shave and head o em.ow hours f isenou&afterdl. It Five hours in church is a long haul. but decide not SetMan pitells me to take my hands out of my pockets as we're leaving thechurch.30 every morning and spending eight hours a day in church would be too much for me. I feel a touch guilty about are fastmg. with God on your side. I've enjoyed the food and the tranquillity. I'm not sure whether attendance is obligatory and go back to bed. but gettingup at 2. Still no wine. Y o u c a n u n d ~ d t f i e a g p e a l t o to dash.de W&e. Perhaps 700.worse. love of radio o internet. It is j s &er 6pn and the evening &esoftheOrth&doPrchurchandmonastlc stretches ahead o me.

Once the liquid has been mostly absorbed. season with salt. Photographs: David Munns Food stylist:Marie-Ange Lapierre Props stylist:Llz Belton . Clean and cut the potatoes lengthwaysand add them to the bowl with the artichokes. and lightly saute the onions.5kg potatoes 10 small onions.The food Artichokes with potatoes -8 10 fairly large artichokes (frozen or tinned can also be used) 0. oregano and dill. stir in the parsley and remove from the heat. add lemon juice to taste. In the final 10 rnins of cooking. removing their hard surfaces and hairy "choke". Drain the artichokes and potatoes and add to the pan. peeled and chopped 1-2 tbsp olive oil 1handful dill 1handful of parsley 3-4 springs fresh oregano sea salt and black pepper Lemon juice to taste Carefully clean the artichokes. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Add enough water to cover and simmer for around 30 minutes. pepper. stirring occasionally. Place them in a bowl of water with the juice of two freshly squeezed lemons so they don't discolour.

M x well i $%@formsticky dough. Place in the fridge for a bminutes.~. and fry over a low . seasoning.. .&and simmeFgentlyfor around 15minutes. Chickpea patties Semm4-5 It and black pepper teaspoon of cumin seeds. Then turn the heat down very b '. : :. Tip i h & ~ a bowl and add the beaten egg. h e r (you'll need around 15 times water to . @minue stining until the liquid has evaporated. Put the olive oil a saucepanand saute the onions over a low the peas and rice and stir. Cover with . . daape the patties one by one.Peas with pilaf rice the peas and set aside. parsley. $W. h z the chickpeas in a blender with the garlic. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. k tto prevent them reddening on the outside Btldremaining raw inside. cumin and flour. &ason.&kWuntil o W . hlbn. add the egg yolk and t r up the un .

&C. .J$+!$?J . cuminand lemon juice to taste. Turn the heat down very low ol and leave to simmer for 15minutes. . throw in the dill.. .>v . S?.:. .. . . then bring to the b i .' .. & . l . Add the cuttlefish stock . . . 2.:d .?. Put the cuttlefish in a large pot. This can also be served as a "red" dish by adding fresh chopped or pureed tomatoes. -: . by Brother Epifanios. Skim the foam from the surface of the water. - Cuttlefish with rice -6 lkg cuttlefish or three large squid 5009 rice 2 onions. . finely chopped l handful dill. Add the vegetablesand salt to the fish in its stock.L . Five recipes taken from The Clriaine of Mount Athos. and cook at a steady simmer for 20 minutes.publish4 in Greek by SynchroniOrhontes Publicatio~~s . finely chopped 2~ ~ S 0livtI 011 D S Sea salt and black pepper Juice of three lemons F Fish soup - seardt#rdtnslr(ysrowwlbLl€kpap~ar H.3.. salt and pepper and bring to the b i . Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.c . .a--* . F l J! . Set the cooking liquid to one side. ' .d . ~~$&. pepper. Saute the onions in the olive oil.. Add finely chopped parsley. -.. chop the potatoes.. . add the rice and stir to coat them.~ . . to the rice (you'll need about 15 times water to rice). . Meanwhile. .~:::.". .. Add the lemon juice to taste. carmts and celery and fry gently i the olive n oil.rW a tsmmm o ground cwnin reads f 2 tbsps alive OH Place the fish m a large saucepan..: . cover with ol water..G.... dill. . . S i off any foam that gathers on the water's km surface. ..7 . onions. U $L. ..I:: .. .$~. pour over ol cold water to coverand bring to the b i . Remove the fish from the water and cut into small pieces. allowing the rice to absorb all the liquid.:'W.. ..

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