Milk Pasta from the Oeconomia

Part three of our experimental feast

A sliced spoon dish (mus) of eggs

Item to make a sliced spoon dish of eggs and of wheat flour. If it is to be just one dish (full), take twelve eggs and wheat flour. Beat the eggs into the flour and make a stiff dough of it so that you can roll it out. Roll it out nicely thin on a table or work surface and strew it well during rolling (mit Mandeln – could also mean ‘with almonds’, but I think that is unlikely) so that it turns all dry and does not stick together. Slice it small when it has been rolled out like sauerkraut. Melt butter in a pan, and when the butter is hot, take this sliced dough and throw it into the butter or fat. Put it into hot milk and let it boil well so that it becomes thick, and salt it in proper measure. Strew it with sugar or a spice mix (troye). You may also use the abovementioned elderflowers with it.

Coler, Oeconomia, Book III, p. 60

This recipe belongs to a tradition of fresh egg pasta cooked in milk that goes all the way back to the zotten mus of the mid-fifteenth century and onward to the Milchnudeln of twentieth-century mass child feeding. I used it as a side dish and interpreted it as a fairly solid pasta of discrete noodles, but using more eggs, rolling out a thinner dough, and cooking it for longer can produce a much softer, porridgelike consistency.

The pasta itself was made with standard wheat flour and eggs, with a little water added to produce the stiff, tensile consistency that makes noodles. We cut them from rolled-out dough by hand, thick and roughly square, and boiled them in milk. Out of curiosity, I also deep-fried some of them and that turned out excellent, so I wonder whether the frying described in the recipe refers to that rather than the quick sauté I gave mine.

We decided not to season the noodles except with a very small amount of salt to raise the flavour. At the table, we added mustard sauce or sugar, and both was successful. They certainly would work well with a sweet spice mix like the trysenet found in Cod Pal Germ 551. In case you are curious to try them, the recipe for candied elderflowers reference in the text is this:

Confits of elderflowers

To make confits of elderflowers, pluck the flowers from the stems and lay them in the sun so that they become nicely dry. And take honey in a thick-walled cooking vessel (Tiegel) and fry (röste) them well so that they become completely dry. Season it with pepper, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, mace and cinnamon. You may use these confits with all manner of fritters.

Johann Coler’s Oeconomia ruralis et domestica was a popular book on the topic of managing a wealthy household. It is based largely on previous writings by Coler and first appeared between 1596 and 1601. Repeatedly reprinted for decades, it became one of the most influential early works of Hausväterliteratur. I am working from a 1645 edition.

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