Snail Recipes from de Rontzier

While eating tortoises was always uncommon in Germany, snails, though usually associated with French cuisine, have long been a staple in the Southwest. Again, both Rumpolt and de Rontzier provide a wealth of recipes, and there are also some from other sources. These are de Rontzier’s, grouped with fish between tortoises and frogs:

Snails from the Felix Platter collection of drawings, courtesy of wikimedia commons

Of large snails

1 You boil them in water for a quarter hour, then you pull them from their shells, discard the tails, wash out the shells cleanly, and also wash the snails in salt four or five times so the sliminess goes away and then clean them off with water. Chop parsley and mix it with pepper and butter, and place a little of this in each shell. Place the snails on top whole or cut in pieces, close the shells with butter on top, and set them on coals to cook them fully. Then you serve them in a bowl with salt.

2 You mix rosemary and butter and put it in the shells with the cleaned snails. Place them in a pot with beef broth, cut lemons, pepper, grated bread and butter and let them boil till done (durchkochen). Strew them with salt and pepper when you wish to serve them.

3 Item you season them with thyme, marjoram, butter, pepper, and whole mace etc.

4 Item you fry them in butter. Then you lay three or four Seville oranges (Pommerantzen) in wine and then pour the wine over the snails. When they are sweet oranges (suesse Pommerantzen), pass them through a haircloth with the wine, but when they are sour ones, one is enough. Strew them with salt and pepper etc.

5 You mix chopped chervil with butter, pepper, and the snails, fill (strichts) into the shells together, cook them in broth and wine until done, sprinkle them with salt and serve them.

Of small snails

1 You boil them and then wash them with salt and water. Place them in a clean pot and prepare them with milk, fresh butter, and pepper. You can also put a little pepper on top (when serving?) etc.

2 Item you fry them in butter and season them with mace, pepper, and a little vinegar, strew them with salt and serve them.

3 Item you fry them in butter with chopped apples and onions, season them with pepper, and strew them with it when you wish to serve them.

4 Item you put them into a pot with broth, wine, and fresh butter and season them with pepper and pounded ginger. Strew them with ginger and salt when you wish to serve them.

Much of this is similar to the way we still treat escargots in classic French cooking, though the orange-wine dressing looks sufficiently odd to merit a rediscovery in fashionable cuisine. Garlic is unsurprisingly absent – it had a very poor reputation for a long time – but seasoned butter is already the accompaniment of choice.

Franz de Rontzier, head cook to the bishop of Halberstadt and duke of Braunschweig, published his encyclopaedic Kunstbuch von mancherley Essen in 1598. He clearly looks to Marx Rumpolt’s New Kochbuch as the new gold standard, but fails to match it in engaging style or depth. He is thus overshadowed by the twin peaks of Marx Rumpolt and Anna Wecker. What makes his work interesting is the way in which he systematically lists versions of a class of dishes, illustrating the breadth or a court cook’s repertoire. He is also more modernly fashionable than Rumpolt. Looking to France rather than Italy and Spain for inspiration, and some of the dishes he first describes may be genuine innovations.

This entry was posted in Uncategorised and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *