Two Electuaries from Cgm 384 I

Actually, the second one is not an electuary, it’s just called that. Welcome to the wild and wacky world of German culinary sources.

Borage according to Hieronymus Bock. Image courtesy of wikimedia commons

10 Electuary

Take borage (burätz) electuary: Take 2 pounds of borage flowers and chop them small, take 1 pound of honey and ½ Maß (mausz) of wine and skim (schum) the honey very well beforehand. Add the flowers and boil it well until it becomes thick. Then let it macerate (czuich es durch), and then spice it as you please and spread it out on a board until it dries.

11 Nut Electuary

Nut electuary: Take tree nuts (boun nuß i.e. walnuts) while their shells have not yet begun to harden and pierce them through with an awl. Lay them in salted water for eight days so that it draws out the bitterness. Then wash and boil them very well with wine and with honey and stick them with spices, spice the cooking liquid, and store them in the cooking liquid in a glazed container so that the liquid covers the nuts and they do not become mouldy.

Electuaries (Latwergen) started out as medicinal preparations designed to administer drugs in a sweet paste patients could lick or suck. By the fifteenth century, they have clearly taken on a culinary role. A latwerge at this point could be a sweet fruit or herbal preparation, sometimes used to prepare sauces or season and sweeten foods. Recipe #10 is typical of the genre.

Recipe #11, though, is not an electuary even by the most generous definition of the term. It is for pickled walnuts, another recipe we find described quite commonly.

Bound together with medicinal, veterinary, and magical texts, the culinary recipes of Munich Cgm 384 were partly published in 1865 as “Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter Speise“. The manuscript dates to the second half of the fifteenth century. My translation follows the edition by Trude Ehlert in Münchner Kochbuchhandschriften aus dem 15. Jahrhundert, Tupperware Deutschland, Frankfurt 1999, which includes the first section of recipes not published earlier.

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