Stockfish Mus from Meister Eberhard

A short recipe that is notable mainly for being clearly parallel to one in Cod Pal Germ 551. The two texts clearly belong to the same tradition though, as we will see, Eberhard has more in common with the Kuchemaistrey than with the straightforward collection of recipes in Cod Pal Germ 551.

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<<R7>> Wiltu machen ein gebraten muß vonn vischenn.

If you want to make a fried mus out of fish.

Then take stockfish (per visch, i.e. Bergerfisch), marinade (peyß) them in vinegar and throw them in almond milk well mixed with rice, and add a little fat that is wellig (boiling hot?). Do not oversalt it.

The recipe itself again illustrates the elasticity of the concept of mus. Dried fish – Bergerfisch refers to unsalted dried cod importen through Bergen in Norway – is marinated in vinegar, presumably after being reconstituted and likely cooked in a way familiar to the reader. It is then (I suspect) cooked in almond milk thickened with rice flour, an ingredient both luxurious and suitable for fast days. The addition of fat (schmalcz) need not contradict this since the word can refer to plant and dairy fats as well as animal fat, and many locations in Germany permitted dairy during Lent. Dried fish in general were notorious for requiring large quantities of fat to make them palatable.

There are many things we do not know. Are we looking at a thoroughly mashed soft dish dominated by fish flavour? Is thevinegar just used to soften the fish and removed during cooking? Is this more like a fish soup, or even a fish dish with intact pieces served in an almond milk sauce? The latter is not very plausible to my mind, but certainly in keeping with other surviving recipes.

Meister Eberhard is a recipe collection that belongs into a south German context, most likely associated with the court of Bayern-Landshut during its ascendancy in the first half of the 15th century. We know nothing about the putative author other than that he claims he was part of the kitchen staff there. The text contains an eclectic mix of recipes and dietetic advice heavily cribbed from a variety of sources, including the (unattributed) writings of St Hildegardis Bingensis. The text is published in A. Feyl: Das Kochbuch Meister Eberhards. Diss. Freiburg i.B. 1963 and online on the website of Thomas Gloning.

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