Yesterday’s post on battered and fried cherries got a fair bit of engagement, so I decided to dig out a late sixteenth century reference to the practice that gives both more detail on batters and the things that were prepared like that. This is what Franz de Rontzier has to say in his ever terse, but comprehensive Kunstbuch von Mancherlei Essen (1598):
How to coat fruit and many well-tasting herbs through batter (klahr) and fry them in butter
1 Klahr (light batter) is made from wheat flour, eggs, and a little salt etc.
2 Item of eggs, cream and flour etc.
3 Item of wine, eggs, and flour.
4 Item of milk, eggs, and flour.
5 Item of flour, eggs, and parmesan cheese or cheese of sweet milk etc.
These following herbs and the fruit should first be coated in (lit. drawn through – gezogn) the Klahr and afterwards fried in butter or fat (Schmaltz). they can then be served plain or strewn with sugar.
1 Boiled quinces.
2 Boiled pears or raw ones, if they are soft (muerb).
3 Apples cut in quarters or cubes.
4 Peaches without their stones.
5 Plums with the stones.
6 Cherries with the stones.
13 Young Winterkerze (probably mullein or another verbascum species).
14 Bugloss leaves.
15 Barnasen (?)
16 Posseleyen with the stems (Postelei today refers to winter purslane, Claytonia perfoliata, but this is very unlikely to be meant here. The name probably transferred from a similar Old World plant)
17 Patientbletter (?)
18 sorrel leaves
19 Erdbirn leaves (the word Erdbirne can variously refer to Jerusalem artichoke, potato, or groundnut today. None of these are likely meant here).
20 Violet leaves.
21 Pepperwort leaves.
23 Leaves of gooseberries or redcurrants when they are just emerging.
26 Bay leaves.
29 Brusilgen (probably parsley)
31 Cabbage when it first emerges.
32 Balsam (probably costmary) and its leaves.
33 Elderflowers (Keylkenblumen).
34 Grape leaves.
It’s not quite everything but the kitchen sink – if you cock your head sideways and squint, you can just about make out the flavour profile he is going for – but this is just a small part of the wide and varied universe that is Renaissance German fried food. Sweet tempura, if you will. If it is more refined than we would have expected, our expectations are at fault. German Renaissance cooks were many things, but they were not coarse.