Roast Seal after de Rontzier

They would indeed eat anything in the sixteenth century, and given that the territory of Braunschweig reached up to the Lower Elbe, this is credible as a recipe informed by experience. There are also instructions for seal pastries.

Of (roast) seal

1 When it is roasted, you shall not baste it other than with its own fat and serve it with salt etc.

2 You serve a sauce over it made with wine, cloves, wine vinegar, pepper, its own fat, and grated bread etc.

3 Once it is roasted, you strew it with sugar, cinnamon, and salt etc.

(p. 446)

There is not much to be said here. These instructions are fairly common and found with a number of meats, which indicates that though the seal is classed with fish in this recipe collection, its nature was understood culinarily. I have no way of saying whether this was a worthwhile experience – seals are protected nowadays.

Franz de Rontzier, head cook to the bishop of Halberstadt and duke of Braunschweig, published his encyclopaedic Kunstbuch von mancherley Essen in 1598. He clearly looks to Marx Rumpolt’s New Kochbuch as the new gold standard, but fails to match it in engaging style or depth. He is thus overshadowed by the twin peaks of Marx Rumpolt and Anna Wecker. What makes his work interesting is the way in which he systematically lists versions of a class of dishes, illustrating the breadth or a court cook’s repertoire. He is also more modernly fashionable than Rumpolt. Looking to France rather than Italy and Spain for inspiration, and some of the dishes he first describes may be genuine innovations.

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