A medicinal wine from the Kuchenmaistrey

Because we may need something for when we feel weak and sick in the head soon.

5. xiiii. Item, help a person who has long lain sick and is now rising again, but still is weak in the head from the sickness of the brain. Take a Maß of wine and a Lot of mace. Tie that into a cloth. And (take) a nutmeg and pound it, and also tie that into a clean cloth. Take the two bundles and suspend them in the Maß of wine. Let it stand for three days and nights so that the wine draws the virtue of the herbs to itself. Then give it to the sick person to drink four times each day. Once in the morning on an empty stomach, then half an hour before the meal, half an hour before supper and in the evening when he wishes to go to sleep. And because he drinks from that pitcher, you shall ready another one during that time as is described above, so that once he has drunk the first wine, he has the next one at hand. And you shall give him two and a half eggshells full each time. And do this until he gets better in the head, for long sickness wants long medicine. You can also give this wine to those who have a steady sickness of the head.

It probably won’t do much for any actual illness, but the recipe is interesting for the things it tells us about quantities, about dosage, the structure of meals (two per day) and the way people take medicine (it looks familiar). A Maß is probably about a litre, so if the patient receives 2 1/2 eggshells four times a day for a minimum of three days (until the next wine is ready), that makes 30 eggshells. But it very likely lasted longer than that. 30ml is large for an eggshell.

I will continue posting recipes from the Nuremberg Kuchenmaistrey produced around 1490, but my mode will change. Instead of translating one daily and posting it here, I will try to use what time there is to translate as much as I can and post only some of them here. Once the entire text is done, I will try to get it published either as a book, or online.

The Kuchenmaistrey (mastery of the kitchen) was the earliest printed cookbook in German (and only missed being the earliest printed cookbook in any language by a few years). The book 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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