Meister Eberhard on Avoiding Indigestion

Yes, that’s classist.

<<R100>> Item hastu feist fleysch gessenn

If you have eaten fat meat that did not agree with you, eat pears or cheese afterwards. If you have eaten oversalted food, eat sweet apples afterwards. You must never eat fine and coarse food at the same meal, or you must eat the fine foods beforehand such as soft eggs, young chickens, small birds (and neither) ram, beef, pork nor venison. You shall never eat boiled or roast meat because the fine food will float up on the coarse inside the stomach and rot. Avicenna says that after hard work, or if someone has walked far afield, he should eat no fish. Avicenna also says that nothing is more harmful than to eat many different things, such as fish, meat, crustaceans etc, at the same meal and then linger long (over the table).

It should probably be said that almost everything counselled against here – combining roast meat and ‘fine’ foods, mixing a wide variety of foods, eating for extended periods of time, and eating fat meat – was fairly typical upper-class behaviour.

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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