Fish fürhess from the Inntalkochbuch

A fürhess was a small dish of meat served in a sauce. These were typically made from the less desirable pieces, meat picked off the forequarters of hares and rabbits or the wings and necks of birds. The sauce was often thickened with the blood of the animal, but in this case, we are pretty clearly looking at a roux. Despite the persistent legend ascribing the ‘invention’ of flour thickening to seventeenth-century France, this was not unusual in German cooking at this time – see my The Kitchen, Food and Cooking in Reformation Germany (p. 125, 152 and 155) for more detail.

<<32>> Von vischen ein fürhess

A fürhess dish of fish

Take flour and brown (prenn das ab) it in a pan without water or wine, and when it is browned (geprennt), take wine or vinegar and pass it through a cloth. Season it with good spices and serve it.

<<33>> Von chärpfen fürhess ze machen

To make a fürhess dish of carp

Take wine and wash the fish out well. Take a handful of flour in a pan and brown it (prenns …ab) without wine or water, then pass the washed (washing liquid?) through. Let it boil and season it with good spices.

Unfortunately, the recipes are fairly cursory. I assume the fish are cooked, filleted and flaked, then served in the sauce, but it is also possible they are actually puréed.

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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