Heron Mus from the Inntalkochbuch

A heron right on the duckpond … you do not usually see them much in urban areas

In honour of an encounter in the park this morning, this recipe from the Inntalkochbuch. I am not sure how to interpret it, but it is clearly heron.

<<27>> Von einem raiger mues

Of a heron mues (spoon dish)

First roast it, and when the meat comes off, take the bones (pain, suspect misreading for pret – meat) and grind them up with a small white bread loaf (semel). If this is not enough, add a chicken and grind that up well. Add good wine and 6 eggs for one dish and pass it through. Put it into a pan or pot and season it with good spices.

THere is no question at all that people in the fifteenth century ate herons. They seem to have eaten just about anything with wings on, and herons were considered noble gamebirds and quite desirable. Turning meat into Mus, a term that designates any soft, spoonable food, also is attested amply. However, what I am unsure about is how this particular dish is meant to be prepared. there are a few recipes in the corpus that describe grinding up bones. I suspect the intention is to extract the marrow to add flavour and richness to a dish. that could be the intent here. A dish prepared with eggs and softened bread would be flavoured and fortified with the cooked bone marrow and connective tissue of a heron. However, similar recipes for Mus of other birds clearly call for the meat to be puréed. The bones – pain – are close enough to the meat – pret – for a scribal error to be plausible. It suggests experimentation may be called for one of these days.

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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