Fake Chopped Meat and Cracklings for Lent

Another two recipes from Cgm 384 II, these are illusion foods for meatless days.

The real thing. Grieben courtesy of wikimedia commons

58 A chopped dish (gehäckt) in Lent

Make a gehäkt in Lent of chopped almonds. Colour part of them and leave the other part white, and strew sugar on that. For the third part take small raisins boiled up (geschuilt) in a pan with a little wine.

59 Crackling (gruiben) in Lent

Cut white bread into cubes like bacon and fry that in fat or in oil until it is brown, and strew that onto the spoon dishes (mueser) like cracklings, that is courtly. Also cut apples thus and also fry them in fat and also serve them on spoon dishes (mueßern) in Lent.

Lenten dishes that simulate meat are very common in German recipe collections from the fifteenth century, and they often use high-status ingredients like almonds, fresh fish, sugar, spices, and imported dried fruit. these two are not atypical, but especially the latter is interesting.

#58 seems designed to simulate a fried dish of chopped meat, either meant to be served as it is or used in cooking. A Gehäck is mentioned, among other things, as a filling for krapfen fritters. The word itself just means something that is chopped, but here it is clear that a more specific reference is intended. Chopped almonds, possibly actually coated with the sugar in the pan, and softened raisins together would certainly make an attractive combination.

By contrast, #59 uses inexpensive ingredients to produce mock cracklings, the Grieben that are still thoroughly entrenched in rural German cookery. The first option is basically croutons, and Brotwürfel, cubed soft bread fried in butter, are still popular with winter soups to this day. The second, using fried apples, is more exotic, but also likely to be tasty. Here, we also learn that Mus dishes were commonly served topped with cracklings. that should add an interesting touch to contemporary medieval tables.

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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