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The first thing you are likely seeing here is a recipe. I try to translate one recipe from a historical source every day, and here is where I post them. When I have time to experiment, I also post reports on actually trying out the dishes or short articles on other historical questions I find interesting. But mostly, it is recipes. I hope you enjoy them.

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Almond Milk and a Trick

From the Kuenstlich und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch again:

Grinding almonds the hard way

9 Almond Milk

Item take almond kernels and blanch them in boiling water. Pound them small in a mortar and pour on a little rosewater so that they can be pounded. When they are small, take the out and place them in a clean grinding vessel (rein scherben) and grind them as small as possible. Take them out onto a nice cloth and pass it through with rosewater that is cold. Grind it again and pass it through again, thus they turn thick like a thick milk. That will be good almond milk.

17 Almond Milk that does not Curdle in a Soup

Item take rosewater, salt it like a soup, and when it has boiled, put it away and let it cool. Pass it through and prepare it like other almond milk. Thus it does not curdle.

Almond milk is ubiquitous in our recipe collections, but it should probably be said first of all that it was never common. Almonds and rosewater were luxury foods only available to the wealthy, and most people made do without milk on fast days. We have a few detailed descriptions of how to produce it, and this one is neither unusual nor terribly useful. The second recipe, though, is interesting. We know from contemporary recipes that almond milk could be made to curdle, but when it was cooked, that was not necessarily what you wanted to happen. I do not know whether pre-salting and boiling rosewater will actually do anything, but the author clearly thought so. It might be worth trying out.

The short Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch was first printed in Augsburg in 1559 and reprinted in Nuremberg in 1560 and subsequently. Despite its brevity, it is interesting especially as it contains many recipes for küchlein, baked or deep-fried confections, that apparently played a significant role in displaying status. We do not know who the famous cook referenced in the title may have been or if he ever existed.

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Turkish Recipes in Rumpolt (1581)

We have already seen from the description in Coler’s Oeconomia that Ottoman culinary culture was fascinating to German writers. Marx Rumpolt actually includes recipes he labels as Turkish:

Ottoman light cavalry abducting German women, courtesy of wikimedia commons

Turkish Rice. Take rice and wash it, set it by (the fire) with water and let it swell well. Wash it again and pick it over. Take blanched almonds, cut them small, and fry them in butter, but so that they stay white a crisp (resch). Then throw in the rice and fry it along with them. Sweeten it with sugar and add black raisins. Serve it dry and warm at the table. That is how the Turks like to eat it. you can also serve it in pastries and tarts. (p. CLIII v, chapter on side dishes)

Take mutton that is from the back leg and cut it into pieces the size of an egg. Then cut onions very small and mix them with salt. Rub the meat with clean hands. Stick it on a spit and roast it quickly so that it stays juicy (fein im Safft). Thus the Turks prepare their roasts with onions and garlic, it makes strong and healthy people. It is also a good food for a soldier lying in the field. (p. LIX r, chapter on Turkish, i.e. fat-tailed, sheep)

To marinate a leg in onions. Rub it with onions cut small and salt. Let it lie over night, stick it on (a spit) and roast it so that it stays juicy (fein im Safft). Thus the Turks and Poles like to eat it. (p. XXVII v, chapter in mutton)

A lung roast (ox breast) prepared in a different manner: Salt the roast, spit it and let it roast. Take rice and wash it. Set it on (the fire) and let it swell. Put it on a strainer again and wash it cleanly. Place it in a pot or a tinned fish kettle and pour in chicken or beef broth. If you do not have such broth, take water and fresh butter. Let it boil with that so that the grains stay whole, and when you serve the roast, serve the rice and its broth over it and strew it with sugar confits (Driet). Thus it will be well-tasting. And thus the Turks like to eat it. (p. V r, chapter on oxen)

It tickles my fancy that Germans enjoyed the exoticism of Turkish (i.e. Ottoman) foods long before döner kebab became ubiquitous through the country’s urban areas. Though the number of recipes preserved in our cookbook sources is small compared to the huge number of those labelled Italian or Spanish, it is clear that people took an interest, and likely that it was more substantial than the few mentions suggest. “The Turk”, a catchall term that more or less described all Muslims from the Ottoman Empire, was depicted as a fearsome and cruel enemy in propaganda, but clearly not seen exclusively as a barbaric other. Rumnpolt himself came from Hungary and may be speaking from personal experience when he describes Turkish eating habits, and he certainly does not disapprove of them. We do well to remember that the Ottomans were neighbours to the Holry Roman Empire as much as Italy, France, and Poland were. When Protestant nobles said they would “rather be Turkish than Popish”, they were not engaging in hyperbole, but threatening to use a real political option.

I am not sure it is significant that Rumpolt’s choice of Turkish recipes – rice and spicy, juicy roasted meat – is very close to the döner and köfte that sell so well in Germany today. Ottoman cuisine was far more varied than this, and he very likely was aware of the fact. Interestingly, he notes specifically that the rice should be cooked so that the grains stayed separate, a habit that would have seemed alien to contemporary Germans who used it as a porridge cereal. Once again, as with Coler, we also have Turkish foods associated with war and campaigning. That is not surprising given this was the setting in which many Germans encountered Ottomans at the time.

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Stuffed Breadrolls with Birds and Raisins

From the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch again:

Semmel loaves for sale c. 1600 courtesy of wikimedia commons

19 Filled Semmel Loaves (Gefuelt Semmel)

Take a white Semmel loaf, slice off a thin lid on the top and hollow out the crumb. Then take little birds that go on skewers (Spiesvoegelein), boil them and fry them in fat. Take Rosinlein and Weinberlein (types of raisins) and blanched almonds, fill the Semmel loaf with that and place the lid on top again. Thus it fits together as though it were whole again. Prepare a batter as if for Streublein and place the Semmel in that. Pour the batter all around with a spoon. Take fat and put it into a pan. Let it get hot, then take the Semmel out of the batter and put it into the pan. Pour a spoonful of batter over the lid on top, quickly pour fat over it and see none of the batter gets into it. Fry it nicely, and spoon fat over the top, thus you do not see the Semmel. When it is fried, take a bowl and pour in a sauce (pruee) of wine, add sugar, also ginger and pepper, and a spoonful of fat. Let that boil, take off the lid again, pour in that sauce. Thus the weinberlin swell up and it is done.

My guess is that this was what you did if you wanted to have pastries, but did not have the time, equipment, or ingredients to prepare proper pastries. A semmel, basically a small breadroll similar to a manchet loaf, could be bought any day and while the kind of birds small enough to fit one might not have been available at all times, they were hunted year round. I am also fairly sure that other meats would go into similar preparations. They certainly do today, as a number of recipes for gefüllte Semmel with ground meat or scrambled eggs demonstrates. The only thing that surprises me a little is that you would open the lid after going through such trouble to conceal it exists, but pouring in a hot liquid was what you did with a lot of meat pastries at the time.

The short Kuenstlichs aund Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch was first printed in Augsburg in 1559 and reprinted in Nuremberg in 1560 and subsequently. Despite its brevity, it is interesting especially as it contains many recipes for küchlein, baked or deep-fried confections, that apparently played a significant role in displaying status. We do not know who the famous cook referenced in the title may have been or if he ever existed.

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Three Recipes for Sauce and Serving Bread

These are from the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch, and they are interesting.

A Gingerbread Baker

12 To Make a Lebersultz

Take half a square of Leipzig gingerbread (Leckuchen) and cut it small into a glazed pot that holds 3 Maß. Pour a little (lacuna. wine? water?) over the gingerbread to cover it and let it soak overnight, but start soaking it early. Stir it well with a spoon. The next day, bring it to the fire and let it warm up. Take half a seidlein of honey in a pan and let it melt over the fire and pour it in again (? geuß es widerumb an). Take wine in a pan with the honey and let it boil up over the fire and remove the scum. You shall add three seidlein of wine to the honey, and when it has been skimmed, pour it into the pot with the gingerbread. Let it warm up well so the gingerbread becomes soft. Then take a sieve of coarse haircloth and yet it over a nice cheese vat (kaeslein oder multern) and pour the gingerbread into the liquid in the pot (probably garbled). Stir it in the sieve and force it through so that the gingerbread passes through. When it has all gone through, wash the pot nicely so that nothing sticks to it. Take some fresh fat and grease the inside of the pot. Then return the liquid (prue) to the pot. When it has been passed through, it must be like a wheat porridge (in consistency) or like a thick soup. Then let it boil by the fire and take care that no fire is close by the pot. Stir it with a spoon so that it does not stick (sich nit anlege) when it has become warm again. Take one and a half quintlein of saffron, grind it up with wine, add it to the liquid in the pot and stir it with a spoon. Add ground ginger and pepper and take whole nutmegs and cinnamon bark that is crushed (zerknuetschet), but not too small, and also add that to the liquid and keep stirring the entire time. When it boils, take the ground spices and add them, and salt it before adding the spices, but not much. Let it boil, and when it becomes thick, pour in more wine. It must not be too thick or boil for too long, no longer than an egg that is boiled hard and not poured out. And it should be slightly thick, like wheat porridge. Thus you have a Lebersultzen.

13 To make Deller brot or Moerser brot (literally: plate bread or mortar bread)

Take grated semmel or old and dry (altbackene) weck that is well baked, a good part of a wecken of five or six (pennies), and a little sugar. Put the ground bread in a bowl. Then add ginger, pepper, cinnamon and saffron. Item do not salt the eggs too much and beat them well in a pot. Strain it nicely over the bread so that the shells (huelsen) come out. Turn over (wende) the mash (mus) top to bottom with a spoon. Take small raisins, the pips removed, into the bowl with the bread and the egg. Then take almonds, blanch them and add them entire. Take the greatest quantity of weinberlin (different type of raisins) and stir it together until it is thick as a cheese fritter batter (kaeskuechlin teig) and pour on a little egg so that it is not too thick, like filling for chickens. You shall also use nutmeg to season it. When the batter (read brey for frey) is made, take a small mortar that is glazed on the inside and also nicely smooth and even outside and that holds about a seidlein. Spread ashes on the hearth and set the mortar on it so that it stands evenly. Make a fire that burns brightly and set it by the fire at a distance. You must not have hot coals beneath. They must be baked by the fire. Then take fat in a pan and let it boil up very hot. Then pour some into the dough (brenn den eins in taig) and stir it well with a spoon, but do not use too much. Taker the rest of the hot fat and pour it into the mortar. Swirl it to cover the walls (schwenk es fein drinn umb) and leave a little in the mortar, but not too full. Than take a cover (stuertzlein) that covers it well and lay this into the fire so that it glows. And when you take it off the fire, throw it briefly into cold water and place it quickly over the mortar. Do this often, so that it always has a hot cover. You must not place coals around it or it will stick. Also turn the mortar and do not leave it alone. When it (the dough inside) hardens, turn it over, the bottom to the top. It must cook well for two or three hours before it comes out done. When you think it is well cooked, take it out. Take a griddle, lay it on entire and lay coals underneath so that it browns nicely all over. Draw out the fat, then slice it like apple fritters (kuechlein von Apffeln). Then lay it into a bowl and pour on the Lebersultz. If it is too thick, take Malvasyer (malmsey wine) and pour it into the Lebersultzen. Take the Tellerbrodt and lay it at the bottom of the bowl, and also take a roast chicken or pigeon. Cut that in half and then lay it on the Tellerbrodt, pour the Lebersultzen over it and serve it to eat. But when the Lebersultzen has boiled, it must be thicker than a weinmuss (spoon dish of wine), and it becomes thicker yet when it stands. You may well keep that, it lasts half a quarter of a year. When you wish to eat it later, add Malvasyer or good firnen (?) wine.

14 How to bake kuechlein that are round

Also add Weinberlin (type of raisin) into the Lebersultzen with a dry (altbackenen) weck loaf. Pound that small and fry it and add pounded sugar. Stir it altogether thoroughly. Take the raisins, a large quantity, and add them to the bread. Beat eggs and strain them so that the shells (huelsen) come out, and pour that over the bread so that it turns nicely thick. Stir it together with a spoon like cheese fritter batter (kaes kuechlein taig) and then fry them well. Roll them and turn them over (welger wende sie umb) so that they become round.

I am fairly sure all of these recipes are garbled, but there is a solid core to them that looks like it makes sense. But that is just the beginning.

Recipe 12 is for a gingerbread-based sauce that is called Lebersultz, a ‘liver sauce’ or ‘liver galantine’. there are a number of recipes for such sauces surviving, but this one does not actually involve liver, and I do not think it is an accidental omission. It may be a sign that the gingerbread sauces we still encounter in south Germany today stem from bread-thickened liver concoctions, with liver leaving the stage much like the mincemeat in mince pies did. The recipe itself is not always clear and I think some points were lost in transmission, but it is detailed and clearly tries to present exhaustive instructions. For one thing, we actually have guidance to the quantitiy of spices, and it is impressive.

Recipe 13 looks equally garbled, and is stylistically similar enough to believe it comes from the same ultimate source even if it was not logically linked to the previous one. Again, we have the same careful instructions, not always clear, but trying hard to describe small details. In this case, what it described is a kind of Mörserkuchen, an egg and bread dish baked in a greased mortar. The technique was familiar a century earlier, and there is no reason to think any competent cook particularly needed detailed instruction in the 1550s. still, it is interesting to read how it should be done, and the idea of using slices of the resulting loaf to serve under chickens in a gingerbread sauce is interesting, though the whole package sounds a little starchy.

Recipe 14 is for small fritters, in themselves undistnguished (and again, garbled), but these, too, are to be served in the same sauce. The whole is reminiscent of a similar passage in the Kuchenmaistrey where a number of different things are described as going with the same basic sauce, in this case one actually involving liver. I am not sure I would want to try this one for its culinary qualities, but it is interesting as a way of presenting food and for studying culinary technique.

The short Kuenstlichs aund Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch was first printed in Augsburg in 1559 and reprinted in Nuremberg in 1560 and subsequently. Despite its brevity, it is interesting especially as it contains many recipes for küchlein, baked or deep-fried confections, that apparently played a significant role in displaying status. We do not know who the famous cook‘ referenced in the title may have been or if he ever existed.

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Pear Electuary Porridge

Another recipe from the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch:

Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

16 Electuary of Pears (Regel piern Latwerge)

Item take a grated Semmel loaf and fry it in fat. Grind the electuary in wine so that it turns thin and add it to the pan with the bread. Cook it like a wheat porridge. It it is too thick, pour in more wine until it becomes like a Weinmus (wine spoon dish) and add sugar. Thus you have a good electuary.

This recipe is odd in that it bills itself as being for a pear electuary, but actually describes how to use it in a porridge. Electuaries were usually sweetened fruit pastes cooked down to a very thick consistency to preserve them. The process is well described in a recipe for cherry electuary from Cod Pal Germ 551, and I provided instructions for making a quince electuary in my Landsknecht Cookbook. There is also a more cursory recipe for pear electuary. Though originally medicinal, these confections had become staples of the upscale kitchen by the fifteenth century and were used, among other things, in sauces and mustards. Here, electuary is used in a porridge, which is quite a luxurious breakfast. The Regelbirne identified as the variant of choice here is a hard, durable pear suitable for cooking and long storage, probably similar to what was called a warden pear in England at the time.

The short Kuenstlichs aund Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch was first printed in Augsburg in 1559 and reprinted in Nuremberg in 1560 and subsequently. Despite its brevity, it is interesting especially as it contains many recipes for küchlein, baked or deep-fried confections, that apparently played a significant role in displaying status. We do not know who the famous cook‘ referenced in the title may have been or if he ever existed.

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Plum Sauce from the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch

Another recipe with some interesting points:

Plums on a branch, courtesy of wikimedia commons

15 A Plum Puree (Zwetzger prew)

Take plums and remove the stones, and a good handful of weinberlin (type of raisins), more than the plums. Pound them in a mortar and rub (reib) them through a cloth with wine or with Reinfal, and cook it like a Weinmuß. Fry a semmel loaf in fat and pour it on, thus it browns. Add sugar. You may also make a sauce (prueelein) over (likely meant: from) it and take it from this, but you must use a lot of the raisins so the sauce turns brown. It must be passed through thick. You shall also add Trisanet (spice mixture), that tingles (peitzelt), and let it boil down so that it turns thick. Afterwards, when you wish to serve it over chickens, add rosewater so it smells good, strew cinnamon on it and cover the bowl until you bring it to the table.

This is not quite Pflaumenmus, but you can see enough of a similarity to speculate about the development line. It is part of the German tradition of cooking fruit with grated bread to create spoonable purees, and in this case is used as one of the fruit-based sauces that Montaigne would later remark on.

Two interesting points that we encounter here bear mentioning. the first is the word peitzeln. It is related to beißen and beizen, and still exists in South German dialects as bitzeln. Today, it is associated with the sensation of carbonated drinks (as in the lemonade brand Bizzl), but here it describes a tingling or burning sensation in the mouth produced by spices. That gives us some basic guidance in seasoning. Very likely, the quantities were generous by modern standards. Trisanet is a common spice mix at the time, and the recipe from Cod Pal Germ 551 can be found in an earlier post.

The second interesting point is the use of rosewater to scent a dish, kept covered until it is served for maximal impact at the table. This is described several times in this recipe collection, and it adds another dimension to the dining experience. Of course it also privileged the people at the head of the table who would have the scent waft over them as the dish was presented. Anyone they shared with further down the table would barely catch a whiff.

The short Kuenstlichs aund Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch was first printed in Augsburg in 1559 and reprinted in Nuremberg in 1560 and subsequently. Despite its brevity, it is interesting especially as it contains many recipes for küchlein, baked or deep-fried confections, that apparently played a significant role in displaying status. We do not know who the famous cook‘ referenced in the title may have been or if he ever existed.

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May Dish for Lent

Another recipe from the Kuenstlichs und Furetrefflichs Kochbuch:

8 A different May spoon dish (Mayen müß)

Item rice, boil that in milk that is thick or take almond milk if it is nicely blue. Blanch almonds, and take as much of the almonds as you have of boiled rice. Grind each separately so that it becomes very small (smooth), and when the rice and the almonds have been ground, combine them. Grind it together, add a little sugar to it, and serve it for a May spoon dish in Lent.

Thuis is an interesting recipe, not so much for what it is but for the company it keeps. Almond and rice is a common combination in high-status cooking, and both are permitted in Lent. the description of this as a ‘May dish’ (Maienmus or Maiessen are the common names for this dish) is interesting because it so clearly marks it as a substitute food. The defining ingredient of all such May dishes is butter, which would not be permitted in Lent under strict rules. Compare it with the original in the same source. Secondly, the description of this as a ‘May dish’ seems to be the one aspect that sets it apart from the ‘hedgehog milk‘ that follows it closely. That raises the question what quality of a May dish it would be that determined this difference. That will bear looking into.

The short Kuenstlichs aund Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch was first printed in Augsburg in 1559 and reprinted in Nuremberg in 1560 and subsequently. Despite its brevity, it is interesting especially as it contains many recipes for küchlein, baked or deep-fried confections, that apparently played a significant role in displaying status. We do not know who the famous cook‘ referenced in the title may have been or if he ever existed.

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Rice Recipes from the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch

It has several recipes involving rice at the start:

4 To cook rice

Take thick milk and let it boil. Pick over (klaube) the rice cleanly, and when it has been cleaned (erklaubt), put it into a bowl. Pour boiling water over it and blanch it well, then strain off the water. When the milk is boiling, add the rice and set it into the coals and let it boil until it becomes soft. Then add sugar, and you shall salt it when you wish to serve it.

This is the basic recipe for rice we find in several other sources: clean, blanch, cook in milk until soft. The goal is something like rice pudding, glutinous and very soft. The Meister Hans recipe collection gives very similar instructions a century earlier:

Recipe # 105 Aber von Reiß den mach also
Again of rice, make it thus
Item wash rice nicely in warm water. Pour the rice into a pot and pour water into it (to) a thumb’s width above the rice. Set it down and let it cool. And once you wish to prepare it, pour almond milk into it and set it by a slow fire (
auf ein küle – lit. on a coolness) and stir it until it thickens. It will stay as thick as you can manage best.
If you would know whether it is cooked, take the grains between the fingers. If they mash and are not hard, it is done. Serve it with sugar.

The Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch also has a recipe for making a mash of rice flour and almond milk it simply calls Reis:

10 More about Rice (Mehr ein Reiß)

Take rice flour and put it in a pan. Stir it with almond milk like a wheat porridge. Grind blached almonds, as much as the rice flour, but not too small, let them stay coarse. Combine it all, and add a little sugar, let it boil and serve it.

This is very likely meant as a luxurious Lenten dish that mimicked the consistency of thoroughly cooked rice with its coarsely ground almonds. I am not sure why one would not simply boil rice in almond milk, but it must have been attractive to people at the time. Similar dishes are referred to as almond porridge (Mandelmus) in other contexts. The combination of rice and almonds also shows up in different contexts, not least in this piece of decorative cookery:

11 Hedgehog Milk (Ein Igel milch)

Item take rice and boil it in thick milk or in almond milk. Take of blanched almonds, as much as the rice, and grind each separately and then combine them. Grind it well together so that it turns out smooth. Take sugar and also grind it into this, and make it thick. Then put it in a bowl and use a Kümlein (comb?) to shape it like a hedgehog. Shape it artfully (gestaltlich) and pour milk on it so that the hedgehog stands in liquid (in eim pruelein). Thus it is a hedgehog.

Hedgehogs of all kinds feature prominently in fifteenth-century recipe collections, and though 1559 is a little late, there is nothing surprising about this recipe. We frequently meet rice and almonds as a combination in high-class food, not least in the ubiquitous blanc manger. Both ingredients being expensive, but available independent of seasons and, a coveted quality, white made them ideal for high-class cooks to play with.

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Side Dishes for the Goose Roast

Of course, a roast does not stand on its own. We had other things with the goose, and all from fifteenth-century sources. First of all, garlic honey sauce from Cgm 384:

23 Galantine (galray) for a goose

A garlic galantine for a goose: Take a young goose that is prepared well and nicely and roasted. Take with this garlic and white bread in equal quantities and pound that. Take vinegar and honey with it and pass it through before (czuich es vor durch). Spice it if you wish. But it is not common (nit gewonlich).

29 Galantine for Roast Goose (brauten gänß galray)

Take a young goose when it is well prepared and roast it very nicely. Take garlic and the same quantity of white bread and pound that in a mortar, and pour in wine and vinegar and pass it through a cloth. Then pour in honey and boil it up, and spice it well, then you have a good galantine (galray) with the goose.

There are two recipes for what is basically the same sauce, and it looks to be quite potent. The Process I opted for was to take two bulbs of garlic and two slices of white bread that were roughly the same volume (the same quantity by weight would have meant more bread). After soaking the bread in white wine vinegar, I processed both together with about half a cup of vinegar added, then brought it to a boil with about half a cup of honey. The resulting liquid was thick and opaque, but easily spoonable, and I decided not to dilute it any more. The sharpness of garlic and the sweetness of honey worked surprisingly well together, and the sauce definitely helped clear my sinuses. However, while I liked it, the seasoned goose we had did not really need any sauce.

Next, we made those mystery cheese fritters from the same source (yes, they were supposed to function as a side dish):

65 Fritters (bachen) in a sauce (or bowl? Jussel)

For fritters in a Jussel (sauce), take grated cheese and flour, break eggs into it, and season it well. Knead it together and roll it out on a board and make long, thin strips of it and fry them in fat. After that, cut them into a sauce (or bowl? Jussel).

I opted for a relatively mild Gouda to combine with eggs, flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg and managed to produce a moderately sticky dough from that. The recipe does not specify the method of shaping the fritters, but a comparable recipe suggests rolling out and cutting into strips, so that is what I did here. Fried in goose fat, they turned into cheese straws. They could have been served in a sauce, and we have recipes for milk and egg being used in it, but since there were already two sauces, we simply served them in a bowl.

Then, we had mashed peas with a honey-mustard sauce. This recipe is from the Inntalkochbuch, but it has parallels elsewhere:

<<51>> Regen würm von arbaiss

Earthworms from peas

Item: boiled in lye, remove their skins and boil them until they are done. Pass them through a sieve into a bowl (to look) like earthworms. Then take made mustard and honey and season it with saffron and spices, and pour that over the peas.

To save time, I bought pre-shelled yellow peas and simmered them for 90 minutes, then mashed them. I added a little salt, which was welcome, and then mixed a moderate mustard with honey and a bit of cinnamon to make the sauce. It was a winning combination, and I was surprised that we actually finished an entire pot – 500g of peas before soaking and cooking – between us.

And then there was compost. There are many varieties of this vegetable pickle, and I went with one from Cgm 384:

8 Sweet Compost

Sweet compost: wash young chard and scrape the roots, and boil it in salted water. Then place it on a board until it is drained. Take honey and wine in equal amounts and boil it in that, and (add) figs and both types or kinds (baidertail oder lay) raisins. Colour it and pour it on the chard, and strew anise and almonds on it. You may also add medlars and pears if you like.

This recipe is not very clear, but going by analogies and the nature of compost as a preserved pickly, I interpreted is as something that goes in a jar. I bought two bunches of chard and one small beet (chard is sold without the roots today as we cultivate different versions of beta for either, but in the Middle Ages, you ate both the leaves and the root). I boiled both and chopped them up, drained off as much liquid as I could and mixed them with dried figs and raisins. then I boiled a mixture of wine and honey, added a little saffron, and poured it on. The compost aged in my refrigerator for a week, but I kept a jar to see how it does by January or so. The immediate result was not bad, but also not as convincing as the rest. Sweet chard is not that appealing to me, or anyone else at the table.

Altogether, it was a very successful meal. We almost forgot that we had a dessert, but he was spotted, fetched, and duly devoured.

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A Fifteenth-Century Goose Roast

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet with a few good friends and try out some of the recipes from Cgm 384 and other fifteenth-century sources I translated. At the core of it was a goose, and excellent (and not oversized) bird my friend was able to procure. We tried the method detailed in this recipe from Cgm 384:

30 Filled Geese

Again take a goose as before, or one that is older, and prepare it. Grasp it (begriff die) between skin and flesh as you do a chicken and take garlic and bacon and pepper, pound that, fill it with this, and roast it very well.

The idea was intriguing, and it turns out separating the skin of a goose from its flesh is not very difficult. It can be done with the hand – begriff is a good descriptor. I had to separate skin and flesh with a knife around the initial opening, the rest worked easily wriggling the fingers.

The seasoning consisted of about half a pound of bacon, two bulbs of garlic, and a good tablespoon of ground pepper. All of it was chopped together, inserted between the skin and the flesh, and pressed on firmly from the outside. Next time, I will consider reducing it to a paste because individual pieces of bacon shrank and hardened during cooking, causing the skin and the meat to separate.

Still, the result was excellent. I cooked the goose in a closed roasting pan, the traditional Gänsebräter, starting at 150°C. The temperature was raised to 175°C after the first 90 minutes and to 200°C for the final 30 minutes with the lid open. The skin came out crisp and spicy, the meat juicy, tender and aromatic, and the process also yielded a lot of goose fat suffused with garlic that will perform admirably on Schmalzbrot.

Both because I was unsure whether our side dishes would work out and because we had leftover apples and bread, I also prepared a stuffing for the goose. Garlic, pepper, ginger and nutmeg comined well with this, though I have to say the next time I should sonsider one of the documented alternatives. The filling came out delicious, and since both side dishes also succeeded, we basically rolled away from the table.

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