Gespöt – yet another parallel

The meaning of the name still eludes me, but finding this recipe in Meister Eberhard and both sections of Cod Pal Germ 551 further strengthens the case for a shared textual origin.

<<R10>> Item wiltu machen ein essen in dem meyen, das heyßt ein gespöt.

If you want to make a dish in May that is called a gespöt

Take flowing cheese and cut it into many slices that are thin, and take six eggs and break them over the cheese. Melt May butter in a pan and place the cheese with the eggs over the fire and mix the egg gently (zeuch es ey dar mit auff) so that it is smooth/even (slecht), and serve it forth and do not oversalt it.

The recipe itself is interesting and I am not yet fully sure how to interpret it. It is one of a set of seasonal dishes associated with spring, a wealth of dairy products and eggs, and the use unsalted (‘May’) butter. My main sticking point of the ‘flowing’ (fliessendenn) cheese. I suspect a fresh curd cheese that is ‘flowing’ in the sense that it is not fully drained of whey. This would be available in relative abundance in springtime, and the closes we could come to this would be a quark or tvarog, or indeed cheese curds. That is only one possible reading though. A mature soft cheese, ‘flowing’ in consistency, is equally possible. I tend against this interpretation because it would not be seasonal for May, but of course such cheeses keep and can be eaten at any time during the year.

Either way, the dish is made by combining eggs and thinly sliced cheese (‘thin’ is relative here, and we should not assume slices of the kind produced by modern cuting machines) over a gentle heat until a homogenous mass results. Depending on the proportions, it could be anything from melted cheese with egg to cheesy scrambled eggs. I assume this would then be served with bread.

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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