More Dumplings – Except These Aren’t

The Oeconomia continues its dumpling recipes with – bread pudding and a pancake.

More dumplings – image courtesy of wikimedia commons

Semmelkloesse in a different way

(marginalia: Semmelkloesse in a different way)

Take semmel (white breadrolls) worth three pfennig (coin), cut them into small pieces, also cut onions, and fry it all together in butter. Break a few eggs into good cream and also put in the fried mass (das geroeste). If you wish, you may also add small pieces of fried bacon and a spoonful or a few of wheat flour and stir it all together. Melt a little butter in the pan, pour in the mix and let it bake in the baking oven or stove compartment (Roehren). You may also place a brain sausage or a bratwurst sausage or a nice piece of smoked pork or mutton under the stirred mass.

Semmelkloesse in a different way

(marginalia: a different manner)

Take thick (i.e. curdled) milk, break an egg into it, crumble white bread (Semmel) into it and salt it. You may also add saffron. Stir it together, then put a little butter into the pan and pour in the mixed mass. This is a good dish.

The recipes as such are not terribly interesting. Basically, one is a savoury bread pudding, the other a bread pancake. The addition of sausages or smoked meat is interesting and potentially delicious, but at the same time it is a luxury dish fit for a time of meat scarcity, when even the wealthy need to make a sausage stretch. What makes them very interesting indeed that both are referred to as Semmelkloesse, bread dumplings, despite the fact they clearly are no such thing. It seems the idea of what a Semmelkloß is was so soundly established at that point that an entirely different kind of dish made with its characteristic ingredients could inherit the name.

We should probably address the accompanying image, too. The picture is known as the Knödelesserin, the dumpling eater, from the castle chapel of Hocheppan in South Tyrol. Its paintings probably date to the early thirteenth century, and the figure is often cited as the earliest evidence for dumplings being eaten in the Alpine regions. In reality, fascinating though it is, we really cannot say with any certainty what she is eating other than that it is broadly round.

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 Hausväterliteratur. I am working from a 1645 edition.

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