Fish Jelly from the Inntalkochbuch

Galantines – basically savoury jellies encasing meat or fish – are commonly found in the medieval German recipe corpus. Some recipes stand out as odd, and it is often not quite clear whether the word sulcz – cognate of modern Sülze – refers to a gelatin-based jelly or a thickened sauce, or where exactly the boundary between the two runs. Clearly the word originates with the Latin salsa, a serving sauce, and it is likely the technique of making clarified jelly came in relatively late. These recipes, though, are of the latter kind and concern themselves with the many ways of producing a firm, clear jelly, no mean feat without artificial refrigeration.

<<44>> Sulcz visch

Jellied fish

Take the resin of tart cherry (prunus cerasus) trees, dry it and grind it and put that into the jelly while it is hot. It will gel quickly.

<<45>> Sulcz visch

Jellied fish

Take the skull of a calf, boil it well, clean it and then boil it till it is done. Take a little of the skin from it and half a pound of almonds, grind that up together and pass it through a pepper cloth (pfeffer tuch). Add sugar and ginger and boil the fish in this. Serve it. This way, it will gel quickly.

<<46>> Sulcz visch in den aigsten

Jellied fish in August (?)

Clean calves’ feet nicely and boil them in wine with isinglass, pass them through a cloth etc.

The most notable concern here is how to ensure the jelly actually solidifies. Combining the collagen of calves’ feet with isinglass and strengthening the process with powdered tree resin betrays considerable doubt of the outcome. The actual arrangement and seasoning of the dish is assumed as a given here.

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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