Crawfish porridge from the Inntalkochbuch

Another crawfish recipe – this is an interesting one.

<<4>> Zu ainem chrewssen mues

For a crawfish spoon dish

Take crawfish and cut out the bad part (das pos) from the eyes. Grind them in a mortar and pass them through a sieve with milk. Grate a small white bread loaf (semel) into it and break egg yolks into it, beat it all together and make a mus of it in a pan. It will be red.

This is the kind of recipe I might consider with an industrial-strength food processor and extruder on hand. Cooked crawfish turn a dark, vivid red, so the resulting dish could well have been impressive, but dealing with all the crunchy, fiddly bits sounds like a cook’s nightmare. The technique must have been practical, though. It suervived the centuries down to the Hamburgisches Koch-Buch (Herold und Wahlstab, Hamburg and Lüneburg, 8th edition 1830, p. 289):

No 149 Krebsbutter

You take crawfish, cut off their heads so that the gall comes out, pound them very small in a mortar with butter, and let them fry thoroughly in a pan. Strain it through a hair sieve and use it for whatever purpose you wish.

It does sound enticing (admittedly the butter more than the porridge). But still, the amount of work it would have taken is mildly scary.

The Inntalkochbuch is from a monastic library in Bavaria’s Inntal region (the Inn is a tributary of the Danube), dating to the late 15th/early 16th century. It is written in Upper German and strongly reflects local culinary traditions, though some of its recipes are commonplaces found elsewhere.

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