Snail and Frog Sausage

To continue the series of snail and frog recipes, we have a small section from de Rontzier about hiding them in various dishes to trick people into eating them.

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

To make small dishes of snails and frogs

1 You chop them with bacon or other fat, fill it into pork guts and make sausages from it, or wrap it in a mutton caul. You can then either boil or roast them.

2 You can also chop them and fry them in an Eyerkuchen etc

3 You also fill them into chickens or pigeons, but the head and feet must be cut off first.

4 You chop them and make small dumplings from it, boil them, and lay the feet or breasts of partridges (Veldhuener) on them when you wish to serve them.

Thus you can feed them (bey bringen) unnoticed to someone who is not willing to eat them readily.

Erm. Ick.

The principle is interesting, and the recipes not completely unexpected. Using mutton caul to wrap a sausage is a common technique in de Rontzier’s book and beyond, and the Eyerkuchen, a kind of omelet, worked with a wide variety of dishes. Using smail or frog meat in dumplings and as a filling for poultry does not strike me as terribly improbable, but it implies a lot of it being on hand. Perhaps such dishes generated large amounts of leftovers? That might explain why the author thinks it a good idea to deceive diners into eating them. Going by what we know of entertainment in sixteenth-century Germany, though, this might have passed for humour.

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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