Sunday, 14 February 2010

Food in Taizé

When people I meet tell me they have spent a week at Taizé, after the stories of the group discussions and meditation, there is always a comment about the food. The comments tend to be vague, but words like “simple” are often used. Anyone can sample the cuisine up on the hill by buying a meal ticket for 1.50 Euros. To be honest I amazed they can fill up those hungry young stomachs for that price, no matter how “simple” it is.

 I am very impressed with the organisation that goes into feeding so many people at once – up to 6,000 at peak times. The menus and buying in of the food are managed by the Taizé permanents (lay people who live within the community for a long period of time) and the preparation work and serving is done by the youngsters who have chosen that as their work duty for the week. The kitchens are semi-open air in the summer and as you walk through the community you can see the kids stirring huge cauldrons full of the next meal. The meals are distributed at various locations around the community and you queue up at your allotted spot at meal times.

One blog I found said this about the food at Taizé: “The food at Taizé is basic! Mostly pasta, rice, potato based dishes, with little meat. If you find that you don’t like the food, don’t worry because there is a place called OYAK which opens three times a day and serves food such as hot dogs, pizza, croque monsieurs and drinks to supplement the rations!” Does that say something about the food in Taizé or modern unhealthy eating standards I wonder?

Many of the people who stay in our gites for their week in Taizé quote the food and living in barracks as the main reasons they want to stay with us rather than in the community itself. Having said that, they could stay in one of the silent houses, I have heard complements about the food there.

There are always exceptions of course and one young chap who stayed on the campsite the week before his stay in Taizé told us he always volunteered to do the cleaning of the church as his work duty because you could eat as much as you liked – he obviously loved the food. The church cleaners have to clean during meal times and so are fed later with unlimited rations. Another camper mentioned how attached she became to her red bowl during her stay at Taizé. The bowl is used for many things, drinking coffee at breakfast time, tea at tea time and soup with the meals. I think that so many people fall in love with their bowls, you can even buy these things in the shop. I think I would prefer one of the lovely pottery bowls that the monks make over the red plastic ones, but then I have never eaten at Taizé, if I had I might change my mind!

Click here for more about the accommodation we have at La Tuilerie.

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