Welcome

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.

Posted in Uncategorised | Leave a comment

Cooking Bear according to Cgm 384 II

I will start by apologising for not posting recipes over the long weekend. I anticipate being busy otherwise.

A very anthropomorphic bear bound for the kitchen. Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

We do not have a lot of bear recipes from before 1500. These are three of them:

24 A bear head

Prepare a bear’s head or a pig’s head cleanly. Cut it in two and boil it well and cut the skin in a checker pattern (wuirflott) in such a way that it stays attached to the bone. Then lay it on a griddle and pour hot fat on it. Strew spices into the cuts (in die wunden) and serve it dry (i.e. without a sauce).

25 Take a bear’s head and singe it very well. Lay it on a griddle and roast it very well and strew it very well with spices. And when you wish to serve it, serve a black pepper sauce with it.

26 Bear

Now to follow of the bear: Cut off the hands and feet and boil them very well. They should be cut lengthwise towards the toes, and serve a galantine pepper sauce (galray pfeffer) with it.

Notably, the parts that are eaten are the head – a decorative centrepiece – and the paws. This is in keeping with later European tradition. Bear was never a common meat. Hunting was the prerogative of feudal lords, and bears were dangerous and rare. Long before they became extinct in Germany, they had been reduced to marginal populations. By the fifteenth century, finding one outside of the country’s major mountain ranges was already highly unlikely. These are dishes intended to display status.

To a modern reader, the wording is disconcerting, more so in the original. The cuts made to the head are referred to as wounds (wunden), the paws and hands and feet. Bears were viewed as close to humans, but this is also a feature of Middle German generally: It does not semantically distinguish humans and animals as strictly as modern German does.

In culinary terms, the recipes are unexceptional. The head is either parboiled and roasted while hot fat is poured over it, or slow-roasted and served with a black pepper sauce (we have recipes for these from the same source). The paws are boiled and served with a galray pfeffer sauce (again, we have recipes for these). If you happen to have a fresh bear on hand, you can try them.

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

Posted in Uncategorised | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Garlic Honey Sauce for Goose

Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

The recipe occurs twice in Cgm 484 II, with only slight variation:

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.

This is almost the same recipe, really. Garlic is a very common condiment with goose throughout the German corpus, so this is not surprising. As a spicy sauce thickened with bread, the preparation described here also fits the description as a galray by the lights of the collection. Presumably that means it would be served cold. The most salient difference between the two is the final sentence in #23 that it is nit gewonlich. Depending on the context, this phrase can be read as meaning simply that something is not commonly done, but also that it is the opposite of common, something refined. I assume that it is supposed to mean adding spices is not commonly done, but that is speculation on my part. It could equally be intended to point out that (despite containing garlic) this is not a commonplace sauce.

Again, there is a close parallel in the Rheinfränkisches Kochbuch:

36 If you would make a sauce for a goose, take a young goose that is well fed and roast it nicely. Then take garlic and white bread in equal amounts and pound it well, and pour wine and vinegar with it. Pass it through (and add it to the goose), and season it well because saffron takes away the (strong) savour.

Note that this text does not call it a galray. Here, we learn that saffron is used to mitigate the intensity of garlic. I suppose this would require a significant and expensive amount. The resulting sauce would be yellow rather than white.

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

Posted in Uncategorised | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Galray recipes from Cgm 384 II

These recipes are interesting in a broader context more than in themselves. In German recipes, the word galray (cognate of galantine or gelatina) as well as its synonym sultz can refer to both a jelly and a thickened sauce, in both cases served cold, covering or enclosing meat or fish. I suspect that this type of dish has its origins with sauces used to preserve and season cooked meats, like the salsa dominorum of the Harpestreng tradition. Using strong meat broth in such a sauce would have produced a desirable gelling effect, and at some point cooks figured out that if they could encourage this, they could dispense with the bread thickening. That is why a gallert or sülze today is a clear aspic. However, there is no clear changeover point. Some recipes as early as the fifteenth century use galray and sultz to refer to a clear jelly, but as late as the 1590s, it is also used for a bread-thickened sauce. In Cgm 384 II, a series of galray recipes all describe sauces thickened with gingerbread.

lebkuchen baker, courtesy of wikimedia commons

16 A Galantine (Galray)

You may also take a passed-through pepper bread (durchslagen pfeffer brott) and colour and spice that. Add plenty of vinegar and apples cut up small and chopped. Let it boil up a little and pour it out on the head and serve it with that.

17 Take a deer liver and roast it. Then cut off the outside and pound it in a mortar with rye bread and honey and wine, pass it through a cloth, and spice it. Then boil the liver and serve it to be eaten cold, that is a galantine of liver (ain lever galray).

(…)

19 Galantine (galray)

For a galantine, take wine, vinegar, honey, and gingerbread (lepczelten) and pound it together and pass it through a cloth. Boil it and then pour it into a container (guiss es denn etwar in) and let it cool. It will be good.

20 Galantine (galray)

A galantine, take vinegar, wine , honey, and pepper bread (pfeffer brott) and pound it all together. Pass it through and make it thin (machs danndünn in the parallel) and spice it. Boil it and serve it cold, if you wish, with fish or meat (or with) venison, boiled or roasted.

21 Galantine (Galray)

Also prepare a galantine of wine, vinegar, and fish broth, spiced, coloured, with honey and with pepper bread (pfefferbrott) and just boiled. Serve this cold along with fish, roasted or boiled, as a sauce.

22 Galantine (galray)

A galantine for a hare liver or some other liver, roasted, and cut off the outer part and pound it well with rye bread, honey, and vinegar. Pass it through, season it, and boil it, then it will turn black. Serve it cold with the liver. You should also boil up the liver in it.

These are not very interesting recipes in themselves. The frequent mention of lepczelten and pfefferbrott (here used interchangeably), presumably a precursor of Soßenlebkuchen, may be a pointer to what the author sees as characteristic of a galray. It is hard to see how it differs from a pfeffer otherwise, especially in recipes 17 and 22. Several recipes also point out that the dish is served cold, which also seems to be typical of a galray or sultz. I do not feel any particular urge to replicate any of them, I must admit.

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

Posted in Uncategorised | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Fieldfares in a Liver Sauce from Cgm 384 II

I’m not sure it’s a good idea, but that’s what the recipe says.

Fieldfare, image courtesy of wikimedia commons

18 Fieldfares (reckolter fogel)

Take fieldfares (turdus pilaris) that have been prepared cleanly, and when you take out the innards, thrust the stomach back in. Boil them in a good meat broth, then fry them in fat. Take the liver of a calf or a sheep, pound it in a mortar with an equal quantity of bread and pour in a little wine and vinegar. Pass this through a cloth, spice it, and colour it well. Boil it up in a pan and serve the fieldfares in it.

The fieldfare, known in German as the Wacholderdrossel (literally ‘juniper thrush’) or Krammetsvogel (‘juniper bird’), has a long culinary tradition. The migrating birds were caught in large quantities for the table and augmented the income of many rural households in season. This recipe provides a rich, meaty sauce that will probably overpower any flavour the birds have, but seems to have been very popular at the time. Interestingly, this recipe is paralleled almost verbatim in the Rheinfränkisches Kochbuch (#53):


53 (A sauce) For birds or for chickens. Boil fieldfares well in a pan with fresh meat broth, and they must boil up in it. Then fry them well in fat. Now take a liver of a sheep or calf and boil it and pound it very small with the same quantity of bread and add (lit. pour) wine or vinegar or both with it. Pass it through (a cloth) and season it and colour it. Let it boil up and serve the birds in it.


54 But if you would eat it sweet, add a good part of honey to it according to your will. You may serve partridges in this, domestic chickens, brawn, roasted deer liver, or other things.

It was also clearly good for more than fieldfares, which as far as we can tell were more typically fried and served as crunchy tidbits.

Fieldfares and chestnuts, early 17th century. image courtesy of wikimedia commons

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

Posted in Uncategorised | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Pancake Dish from Cgm 384 II

An interesting recipe.

Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

13 A Pepper Sauce Dish

Fry a pancake/sheet (plat) in a pan and cut it into cubes (wuirfellt). And prepare a black pepper sauce of bread, flour, and fish broth, and let the fried (das gebachen) boil up in it. Fry a little cubed (wuirflott) white bread in oil or in fat and strew it on that.

This stands in need of some interpreting. The word plat simply means a sheet or leaf and is also used for paper. I assume that it refers to a pancake here, as it frequently does, but it can also mean a kind of flatbread or a sheet of pastry dough. A thick pancake could be cut into squares and served in a sauce with cubed bread croutons. It is also remarkably close to a savoury version of col ris, a recipe with an illustrious ancestry in the Buoch von Guoter Spise. The fact that the pepper sauce is made with fish broth suggests it is a Lenten dish, intended as a substitute for meat. This is a tradition which will later give rise to the great and rich tradition of Mehlspeisen as main courses.

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

Posted in Uncategorised | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Fürhess Recipes from Cgm 384 II

Almost all recipe collections have recipes for this kind of dish. Cgm 384 II has two:

Pan-fried fürhess based on a recipe in Meister Hans

14 Fuirhess

For a fürhess, take the lungs and the liver and the innards (westin) of a hare and cut it into cubes (wuirflott). Catch the blood and boil it with that, and add a little broth, wine and vinegar, honey and bacon to it. That way, you will have a good fuirhess.

15 Fuirhess

A fuirhess: Take the lungs and liver and catch the blood of a hare. Chop it small and boil it with the blood, with the venison, with wine and with vinegar, and with good broth. Also chop bacon very small, add it, but let it sweat in a pan (vss gaun in ainer pfannen) beforehand. Pass it through a cloth with toasted rye bread, spice it, and let it boil up.

Fürhess recipes share a few features: They were always made with meat cut up small, and they always involved blood. The most likely origin is in processing small animals. Various ‘fiddly bits’ of meat and a quantity of blood that was not worth making into sausage could be used in such a dish. Some recipes also include onions, apples, raisins, and specific spices.

The two recipes in this collection appear to be for slightly different kinds of fürhess dishes. The first has recognisably cubed pieces of meat and may well be meant to be rather thick. The second is passed through a cloth which, if the meat is included, suggests a nearly liquid consistency. It is hard to say what consistency a fürhess was expected to have. Some recipes specifically mention boiling in liquid and make something more like blood soup while others add the blood to meat in a frying pan, which creates a porridgelike consistency. I prefer the latter, but have no better evidence for it than that.

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

Posted in Uncategorised | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Crawfish in Crawfish Sauce from Cgm 384 II

Another crawfish dish with a spicy sauce.

12 Crawfish in Pepper Sauce (kreps pfeffer)

Take crawfish, boil them and shell them so that their necks are bare and the shells come off. Then take raw crawfish, gut them up to the eyes and discard what is bad (das kaut). Then pound them in a mortar and pass them through a cloth or through a sieve with wine or with vinegar, and season them, and make a pepper sauce to go with the shelled crawfish.

The red of cooked crawfish shells

The idea is fairly straighforward: You use crawfish, pounded and mixed with liquid, to make a sauce for serving boiled crawfish in. We have some similar recipes in later sources, though they differ in detail. Here, I would expect the sauce is thickened with ground bread or gingerbread and boiled, as the other pfeffer type sauces are. What is not sure is whether the shells are ground into the sauce or not. This is sometimes explicitly stated in other recipes as it produces a red colour after cooking.

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

Posted in Uncategorised | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Filled Crawfish Shells from Cgm 384 II

Yes, there is more to this source than sauces.

11 Filled Crawfish

Take large crawfish and take their shells off whole. Take out the innards (das ynder) and discard what is evil, and chop the rest on a clean board. Add fried eggs (gebachen ayer) and chop it all together, and season it and colour it and fill the crawfish shells with that. Thrust the shells over one another, lay them on a griddle, and roast them well.

This piece of culinary sleight-of-hand is also found in the Kuchenmaistrey, though there the filling is held together with raw egg. I tried out that recipe in April this year and found it both pleasant and visually interesting. Obviously, it is older than the printed book’s 1485 publication date.

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

Posted in Uncategorised | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Pepper Sauces for Fish from Cgm 384 II

courtesy of wikimedia commons

More sauces. The second one is interesting.

9 Black Pepper Sauce

Also prepare a black pepper sauce that is thick as though for venison to serve with carp (karpffen) or bream (brachsne) or tench (schligen) or other fish. Also prepare a black pepper sauce with honey to serve with whole fish, bullheads (groppen) or gobies (grundlen) and others, whichever kind you wish. Sweet other pepper sauces (are served) with fish and pureed peas, (made) of pepper bread (pfefferbrot), or flour and of onions, of pepper and dry pepper (duirre pfeffer). Prepare them as is your habit.

10 Pepper Sauce

Make a pepper sauce to serve with crawfish thus: Take crawfish and boil them as is described before, and pass them through with wine and with vinegar. Then shell the boiled crawfish, their claws and bellies and tails. Boil the legs from their bellies and add that to the passed-through crawfish. Season it as you wish and boil it up, if you wish, as a pepper sauce.

In the first recipe, we learn that pepper sauces were served with fish and that sweetened sauces were especially suited to bottom-dwelling fish. Again, pepper bread, probably a kind of gingerbread, is mentioned, and so is duirre pfeffer, something that is rather hard to understand. All pepper in medieval Germany was dried, so what exactly would qualify it for the attribute of ‘dry’ is a mystery. The explanation may lie hidden in some medical text, for all I know.

The second is more directly applicable. It is basically for crawfish served in a sauce made of pureed crawfish, wine, and vinegar. The instruction to season it as you wish and boil it up as a pepper sauce suggests that the spicing is meant to be heavy and the sauce bound with bread or something similar. There are several recipes that point in a similar direction, though they differ in detail. In several of them, the shells are used for colouring, but I do not think that is the case here. Crawfish generally seem to have been a popular status food through much of Southern Germany, prepared in all kinds of inventive ways.

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

Posted in Uncategorised | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Another Liver Sauce from Cgm 384 II

The chapter starts bumpy:

Not looking like this, but I love the image courtesy of wikimedia commons

8 Liver

Take the liver of a sheep or calf and boil it, and pound it very small with an equal quantity of bread (als vil brottes). And pour wine or vinegar or both into it and pass it through and spice and colour it and let it boil up and serve birds in it. But if you would like to make it very sweet, add good honey to it as you please. You may serve partridges and domestic chickens in it roasted, and a pressed head (gebresseten kopff), a roast deer liver, or other things.

It is not easy to see how this recipe is materially different from #5 in the same collection. It mentions the option of adding honey and gives us an incomplete list of foods that can be served with it, though. That much is informative. The gebresseden kopff mentioned here is, of course, head cheese, the slowly boiled meat from a pig’s head pressed into a solid mass. This seems to have been a popular dish in fifteenth-century Germany. It was even faked for Lent.

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

Posted in Uncategorised | Tagged , | Leave a comment