Almond cherry mousse – new source

I found a new source for translation in my downtime windows: the Mondseer Kochbuch (c. 1440). More details to follow, but here is recipe 1:

Cherries, late 16th or early 17th century, courtesy of wikimedia commons

1 A spoon dish of almond milk, cherries, and rice

You shall take a pound of almonds and pound them to milk, and cherries one libra, and pass them through a sieve and add the milk to it. Take a fierdung of rice, that shall be pounded to flour, and add that to the milk. Then take pure fat or bacon and melt that in a pan, and add to it half a mark of white sugar, and do not oversalt it.

This recipe piqued my interest because it gives quantities for most ingredients. The pound is a common trade weight across all of Germany, with the fierdung or vierdung meaning a quarter pound and the mark half a pound. I assume the libra is simply the Latin rendering of pound here. Since a pound could vary between 400 and 600 grammes regionally, there is still a degree of uncertainty. We also do not know exactly that all measures relate to the same system. It is possible that the libra specifically means apothecary weight and the mark currency weight while the pfund and fierdung refer to local trade weights. But for all of that, we gewt a reasonable range of assumptions here. About 450 grammes of almonds turned into almond milk (of unknown thickness, but likely quite thick), 450g of cherries pureed and strained, 120 grammes of rice flour and 110 grammes of sugar (assuming the Cölnische Mark as our base here).

The quantity is clearly not an individual portion. It is a dish to be served to a company of diners whose number would vary according to situation and rank – an essen, in contemporary English use a mess (that is where the Biblical “mess of pottage” and the mess hall derive from). And it is quite sweet, as sweet as a modern dessert. That makes it a very luxurious dish in an age when sugar was priced as a spice. I think if I make this with a tarter variety of cherry, it is likely to also be very good.

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