Trappist cheese makes comeback in Bosnia

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Tuesday 03, February 2009 | Category:   Consecrated Life
Roman Catholic monks in Bosnia-Herzegovina have resumed production of their world-famous Trappist gourmet cheese after the Balkans war forced them to stop in the mid-1990s, according to a report by Jonathan Luxmoore for Ecumenical News International.

"Our numbers fell and we were forced to cut back, and in 1996 we stopped making it completely when the last brother who knew the recipe died," explained Zvonko Topic, one of two surviving Trappist monks at the Marija Zvijezda, or “Star of Mary,” monastery near Banja Luka. "But we've now decided to bring it back to consumers here, and we'll be opening a small shop soon for tourists and visitors."

The recipe, traditionally known only to a single monk, had been rediscovered by another Bosnian Trappist in the 1970s while a novice at a monastery in Normandy, where the order was founded in 1664.

The cheese will be made at a farm belonging to the Catholic charity Caritas at Aleksandrovac, 12 miles from Banja Luka. Topic said the monastery currently has only three postulants and has been maintained by funding from the local Catholic bishop. Marija Zvijezda Monastery played a key role in Catholic life in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Topic said he hoped the community would slowly rebuild.

Cistercians of the Strict Observance, who follow the Sixth Century Rule of St Benedict, the Bosnian monks began making the Trappist cheese when the order returned to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1872 after fleeing Turkish rule. The monastery's 200 monks produced it on a mass scale, while also running a brewery, sawmill, craft school, brick and cloth factories, until their property was seized by Yugoslavia's communist regime after the Second World War.

Hmm . . . How about some Trappist ale to go along with that gourmet cheese. Yum.




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