Peach Salad

I spent some quality time with my son and helped a good friend’s daughter with history homework, so now I am short of time. Therefore, here is just a short recipe from the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch (imitation NOT recommended):

Peach tree courtesy of wikimedia commons

71 Peach Salad

Take them and shell the kernels. Cut them open so that they still hang together on one side. Take the kernels, break them open and peel (blanch?) them. Take each one kernel and put it into a peach. You also put in blanched almonds and nuts. Lay them in a bowl, pour on Malvasier (malmsey wine), and you may well also strew on Trisanet (spice mixture).

Peaches were a popular, somewhat exotic fruit that was difficult to grow in most of Germany, but would impart status on anyone who could manage it. Thus we find a number of fashionable recipes involving them. This one is potentially delicious, but also hazardous in the extreme. We have already seen cooks took a cavalier attitude to fruit stones, valuing their aromatic qualities enough to include them in recipes in way that maximised exposure to their toxins. Peach stones contain a kernel that is shaped roughly like an almond, is soft and pleasantly scented, and contains a significant amount of amygdalin that will break down into cyanide during digestion. Needless to say eating them is not a good idea. Making this salad will probably not kill you, but it will almost certainly make you unwell, possibly quite ill. Replacing the peach pits with almonds, on the other hand, has the potential to produce a regret-free fruit dish for a summer banqueting table.

The short Kuenstlichs und 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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