Plum Sauce from the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch

Another recipe with some interesting points:

Plums on a branch, courtesy of wikimedia commons

15 A Plum Puree (Zwetzger prew)

Take plums and remove the stones, and a good handful of weinberlin (type of raisins), more than the plums. Pound them in a mortar and rub (reib) them through a cloth with wine or with Reinfal, and cook it like a Weinmuß. Fry a semmel loaf in fat and pour it on, thus it browns. Add sugar. You may also make a sauce (prueelein) over (likely meant: from) it and take it from this, but you must use a lot of the raisins so the sauce turns brown. It must be passed through thick. You shall also add Trisanet (spice mixture), that tingles (peitzelt), and let it boil down so that it turns thick. Afterwards, when you wish to serve it over chickens, add rosewater so it smells good, strew cinnamon on it and cover the bowl until you bring it to the table.

This is not quite Pflaumenmus, but you can see enough of a similarity to speculate about the development line. It is part of the German tradition of cooking fruit with grated bread to create spoonable purees, and in this case is used as one of the fruit-based sauces that Montaigne would later remark on.

Two interesting points that we encounter here bear mentioning. the first is the word peitzeln. It is related to beißen and beizen, and still exists in South German dialects as bitzeln. Today, it is associated with the sensation of carbonated drinks (as in the lemonade brand Bizzl), but here it describes a tingling or burning sensation in the mouth produced by spices. That gives us some basic guidance in seasoning. Very likely, the quantities were generous by modern standards. Trisanet is a common spice mix at the time, and the recipe from Cod Pal Germ 551 can be found in an earlier post.

The second interesting point is the use of rosewater to scent a dish, kept covered until it is served for maximal impact at the table. This is described several times in this recipe collection, and it adds another dimension to the dining experience. Of course it also privileged the people at the head of the table who would have the scent waft over them as the dish was presented. Anyone they shared with further down the table would barely catch a whiff.

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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