May Dish for Lent

Another recipe from the Kuenstlichs und Furetrefflichs Kochbuch:

8 A different May spoon dish (Mayen müß)

Item rice, boil that in milk that is thick or take almond milk if it is nicely blue. Blanch almonds, and take as much of the almonds as you have of boiled rice. Grind each separately so that it becomes very small (smooth), and when the rice and the almonds have been ground, combine them. Grind it together, add a little sugar to it, and serve it for a May spoon dish in Lent.

Thuis is an interesting recipe, not so much for what it is but for the company it keeps. Almond and rice is a common combination in high-status cooking, and both are permitted in Lent. the description of this as a ‘May dish’ (Maienmus or Maiessen are the common names for this dish) is interesting because it so clearly marks it as a substitute food. The defining ingredient of all such May dishes is butter, which would not be permitted in Lent under strict rules. Compare it with the original in the same source. Secondly, the description of this as a ‘May dish’ seems to be the one aspect that sets it apart from the ‘hedgehog milk‘ that follows it closely. That raises the question what quality of a May dish it would be that determined this difference. That will bear looking into.

The short Kuenstlichs aund Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch was first printed in Augsburg in 1559 and reprinted in Nuremberg in 1560 and subsequently. Despite its brevity, it is interesting especially as it contains many recipes for küchlein, baked or deep-fried confections, that apparently played a significant role in displaying status. We do not know who the famous cook‘ referenced in the title may have been or if he ever existed.

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