Galantine with Live Fish from the Oeconomia

You know blackbirds in a pie, get ready for gudgeons in a jelly:

Common gudgeon, courtesy of wikimedia commons

To make a floating galantine (Gallart)

(marginalia: To make galantine float)

If you would make a floating galantine that is to float over the bowl, have an iron tube made to fit the bowl, one that is like those that you fit large candles (groß Liecht) into, and have a grille made of wire that is as wide as the bowl and round. Pass a piece of wood through the center of the grille. Have a proper small vat (Schaefflein) made so that the grille can be laid into it. Then boil fish or meat until they are done. Prepare the broth well with isinglass and season it with all kinds of spices. Lay this (the grille?) on the fish or meat and pour on this broth, and set it so that it gels. When it has gelled, strike the hoops off the vat and take out the galantine carefully. Yet it into the tube in the bowl, have it gilded nicely, stuck it with almond kernels and strew it with raisins, and decorate it nicely. Pour water into the bottom of the bowl and set into it live gobies or gudgeons or other live fish and serve it. Thus you will have a lovely dish.

This is a very pretty piece of culinary sleight-of-hand and if done correctly will result in a bowl whose surface is cooked fish in clear jelly, but which has visible live fish moving around in it. Making it, especially without refrigeration, must have been quite challenging. I am sure it was not made commonly, and having a bowl with a socket mounted in it just to this end must have represented an extravagance.

Incidentally, while a Grundel and a Kressling in modern German are different fish, I suspect the original’s Grundeln oder Kressen is a reference to the same fish – most likely the common gudgeon, gobio gobio – that takes account of dialectal variants.

Johann Coler’s Oeconomia ruralis et domestica was a popular book on the topic of managing a wealthy household. It is based largely on previous writings by Coler and first appeared between 1596 and 1601. Repeatedly reprinted for decades, it became one of the most influential early works of Hausv√§terliteratur. I am working from a 1645 edition.

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