Elderflower and elderberry mus from the Kuchenmaistrey

The one thing Mus had in common was their soft, spoonable consistency. These two are made with bread and fresh pasta, respectively.

To make spoon dishes (Müßer)

1. xlvi. To make an elderflower spoon dish. Take elderflowers and break them into good boiling milk. Let them boil for a good while. Pass it through a cloth. Make a hard dough and roll out thin sheets from that. Cut the dough into small pieces the shape of worms (würmleinß weiß) and put them into the boiling milk. (See that) it is always boiling. And stir it well so that it mixes. Salt it, and season it with butter.

1. xlvii. Item another spoon dish of elderberries Take the elderberries and wash them nicely. Then take toasted white bread. Pound the berries and the bread with good wine or chicken broth. Add grated gingerbread or honey to it, season it with spices, and pass it through a cloth into a pot or pan. Let it boil, and strew spices on it.

Item if you would make a spoon dish of mußbirn (a variety of pears?), treat them as the elderberries.

The next section of the Kuchenmaistrey is dedicated to making spoon dishes of various types. The first one is interesting both for the way it uses elderflowers to flavour milk and as an early German pasta recipe. It is related to an earlier family of ‘wormy’ or ‘shaggy’ Mus dishes boiled in milk.

My current project are recipes from the Nuremberg Kuchenmaistrey produced around 1490. This was the earliest printed cookbook in German (and only missed being the earliest printed cookbook in any language by a few years). The Kuchenmaistrey (mastery of the kitchen) gave rise to a vibrant culture of amended and expanded manuscript copies as well as reprints spanning almost a century. The recipes seem designed to appeal to a wealthy, literate and cosmopolitan clientele.

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