Coler on Ice

Just a small note today. We know that ice was stored underground for summer use in the sixteenth century, but it tends to be associated with extremes of courtly luxury on the tables of Renaissance princes. Coler can hardly be suspected of keeping that kind of company, but he writes in his agricultural calendar:

Ice

(marginalia: to bring ice into the cellar)

Have ice brought into your cellar in winter so that you may have a refreshing drink (einen frischen trunck) in summer. But beware that you do not gulp too cold things into you (in dich saeuffest) in the hot dog days and thus cause yourself a fever or death.

The worry that very cold drinks could cause illness was widespread in the sixteenth century, but we know that chilled drinks were widely appreciated and especially wine cooled for drinking in dedicated vessels. Adding ice to such a wine cooler would have been a welcome boost to the refreshing quality of k├╝hler Wein. It seems that this was done a good deal further down the social ladder than we usually think if a rural clergyman in Mecklenburg recommends it.

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├Ąterliteratur. I am working from a 1645 edition.

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