An Almond Hedgehog from the Inntalkochbuch

You know that song? Anyway, ‘hedgehogs’ were a popular thing in medieval culinary display, very likely because they look cute, but are basic and thus not difficult to produce even for non-artistic cooks. The Inntalkochbuch presents a fairly pedestrian recipe with many parallels.

<<41>> Ein igel von mandel

A hedgehog of almond(s)

Throw well ground almonds (or almond milk – the word used is an uncountable noun) into a clean pot and stir it well with a small stick. Then pour it out onto a cloth so that it lies enpar (on top?) and let it drain so that it becomes dry. Strew it with sugar and take quartered almonds that are colored red with saffron, and stick it with them like (the spines of) a hedgehog. Pour thick almond milk over it and serve it on a platter.

There are some questions left open, but the basics are clear: The body of the ‘hedgehog’ is shaped from a mass of ground almonds (and presumably sugar). Then, slivered almonds are added as spines. Serving it in almond milk is an unusual idea, that was more commonly done with almond ‘cheeses’, but it is not very far-fetched.

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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