monastics went on alms round to receive offerings of food from lay patrons. When Buddhism came to China
, this strategy of simplifying one's activities in order to have time for study and practice was...less than sucessful. The Chinese
thought the monastics were lazy
bums without filial piety
. And so Chinese Buddhist monasteries began to cultivate their own crops and rice.
In India, Buddhist monastics ate once a day, before noon, with only liquids thereafter in the intense heat. In China it was very very cold in the winter time. Some monasteries provided warmed stones called "medicine stones" for the monastics to place on their rumbling, aching bellies. Eventually, being a very practical people, the Chinese Buddhists just cooked themselves a nice supper.
In Japanese Zen, the evening meal is still called "yakuseki" or "medicine stone".