Fish pastry from the Königsberg MS

Unexciting recipe with interesting aspects to its probable transmission.

[[19]] Eym gudt Bastede:

A good pastry

Take fish, scale them and skin them and when they have boiled (wan er her walldt), chop them up fine. Chop parsley and sage into it and add pepper, ginger, cinnamon and saffron. Mix it well with wine and make a thin pastry dough (striben), place the fish in there and pour wine over it. Cover it with a crust and form it all around, break a small hole in the top, make a small cover (Blezelein, literally a patch) of crust for that and bake it well. You can also make this out of chicken, (other) birds, venison or meat.

In culinary terms, this is much like many other medieval pastry recipes in that it tells us few of the things we would really like to know (How do you make the crust? How do you gauge doneness? How wet do you make the filling?). Putting fish or meat into a pastry case with spices and wine and baking it is the standard procedure.

What is interesting is the comparison with two of its parallels in Cod Pal Germ 551 sections one and two. Both are without the somewhat cryptic instruction wan er her walldt. The recipe from section one omits the reference to patching up the hole in favour of a briefer, more cursory style. The one in section two refers to a klosterlin, an expression that makes no real sense in the context of a pastry and may be based on a misreading of a shared source. This may indicate that a) the Königsberg MS may be closer to the shared source than either of the Cod Pal Germ 551 collections and that b) the two sections of Cod Pal Germ 551 may derive from seoparate origins rather than being based off each other. My initial expectation that section two might be an adaptation of parts of section one intended to be passed on looks less likely now, at least.

The Königsberg MS was preserved in the archive of the Teutonic Order in Königsberg (today Kaliningrad) in Baltic East Prussia, though its language suggests that it belongs to a Central or South German background. It is not associated with any name that I am aware of and is dated to the late 15th century purely on the scribal hand. The recipe types match South German sources of that time. It was published in Gollub (Hg.): Aus der Küche der deutschen Ordensritter. in: Prussia 31 (1935) pp. 118-124.

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