A Wreath of Many Colours

An edible wreath from the Innsbruck MS:

Eggs were a central ingredient. Illustration for the Teutsche Speißkammer

79 If you would prepare a wreath of four colours, make sheets of eggs. (Make) white ones from egg white, yellow with yolks, green with (herb) juice and egg white, and black also in this manner. Roll them over one another and then cut them in the length of two digits. Then stick them on a reed (schin), one colour after another, and tie it together like a wreath. Prepare a strauben batter and lay it in that, then fry it. After it is fried, pull out the reed. Then cut it on the top all around so you see the colours etc.

After the four-colour jelly of yesterday, this is clear evidence that whoever commissioned the Innsbruck MS liked colourful foods. It really looks like an early ancestor of East Germany’s Papageienkuchen (parrot cake), the multicolored layered cake traditionally made with jelly powders. While it is very likely not a culinary revelation – basically fried egg arranged in a circle, battered, and fried – it would require quite some dexterity and skill to assemble correctly.

The Innsbrucker Rezeptbuch is a manuscript recipe collection from a South German/Austrian context. It dates to the mid-fifteenth century and survives as part of a set of medical and culinary texts bound together. The editor Doris Aichholzer published it together with two related manuscripts and drew attention to the less elaborate, more practical recipes. The manuscript is of unknown provenance, but has been owned by the Habsburg emperors since at least the early sixteenth century. It is now held at the Nationalbibliothek in Vienna. An edition, German translation and commentary can be found in Doris Aichholzer: Wildu machen ayn guet essen… Drei mittelhochdeutsche Kochbücher, Peter Lang Verlag Berne et al. 1999

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