Honey Sauce for Fish from Cgm 384 II

Another sauce – and possibly a roux

Trout courtesy of wikimedia commons

60 Sweet sauce

Prepare a trout or a salmon or a whitefish (Inlancken) thus: In a sweet sauce with fish livers and grated gingerbread or with pepper bread (leppczelten oder mit pfeffer brott) or with toasted flour (gebrentem mell) and honey, as is described above. Add almond kernels and both kinds of raisins (bayderlay winber) and figs, and serve that over the fish cold, or lay the fish into it.

In principle, this is no different from the many liver sauces we know from the medieval German corpus. I have never made one with fish livers, but do not assume it will be fundamentally different from poultry liver, which I have done. The interesting points in this recipe are two asides, things that the reader is simply assumed to know.

Firstly, there is the reference to gebrentem mell, toasted or, literally, burned flour. In later sources, this term refers to a roux, flour heated with fat and used to thicken sauces. This is also what it is used for here – either grated gingerbread, or ‘toasted flour’. We have a good idea of how to use grated bread to thicken a sauce, but a roux in the mid-fifteenth century, while not completely unprecedented, would be unusual. Since there is no further description here, we must leave this standing as a possible reference.

The second point is bayderlay winber, the raisins of both kinds. This is another of those many references to different kinds of raisins that I have yet to fill with any substance. I know that several terms were in use and that cooks would have understood what welsche Rosinen, Meerträubel, or weiße Rosinen were. Now we know that at least in this corner of Germany, in the mid-fifteenth century, there were two kinds of raisins. That helps a little.

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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