Frog Recipes from de Rontzier

Like snails, frog legs – cuisses de grenouille – are usually, and rarely flatteringly, associated with French cuisine. However, there are recipes in some German sources, too, closely associated with the previously posted recipes for tortoise and snail.

Frogs, from the Felix Platter collection of animal drawings for Conrad Gesner’s historia animalium, courtesy of wikimedia commons

Of frogs

Only the frogs that live in the water are good to eat. The others do not serve, except for the hindquarter which you must skin etc.

1 Item you boil them in water, flour them, and fry them in melted butter, drizzle bitter orange juice (Pommerantzensafft) over it, sprinkle them with salt and pepper, and serve them.

2 You mix salt, pepper, and flour, dust them with this and fry them in butter. Throw in parsley when they are almost done, sprinkle them with salt and serve them.

3 You boil them and cut them small, place them in a pot with wine, prepare them with cubed apples, small raisins, ground pepper, ginger, and butter and let them cook until done etc.

4 Item you boil and prepare them with wine, grated bread, large raisins, saffron, ginger and sugar etc.

5 Item you prepare them, with ground almonds, wine, sugar, and pepper, and strew them with sugar when you wish to serve them.

6 Item you prepare them with chopped bacon and parsley, fresh butter, egg yolks, and a little broth, let them cook, and strew them with salt when you wish to serve them.

7 Item you prepare them with egg yolks, wine, mace, and fresh butter etc.

These recipes are not really surprising. The first two are ancestors of the way frog legs are still prepared in France, floured and fried. The next three are fairly typical of the way small meats are prepared in Germany in the sixteenth century; in an apple sauce, a bread-thickened wine sauce, or with almonds. I am not certain whether the final two describe a kind of scrambled eggs with frog meat or a sauce bound with egg yolk. Certainly they all fit the style of their day, and it looks like frogs are basically considered meat, though not a favoured kind.

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.

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