Figs in Galantine

The third medieval experiment I made for my birthday party was another recipe from the collection of Meister Hans that is going to be my next book-size translation: Figs in sulcz.

Sweet experiments – The fig in the foreground was freshly plucked from its jelly

Galantine of figs

Item as galantine of figs, if you wish to make this, take a pound of figs. Wash them nicely and give them one boiling. Leave the stalks on, and set them in a bowl so that the stalks point upward. When they are boiled, you shall have isinglass and boil this in good wine and take the broth that the figs were boiled in (as well). And take of this as much as you need with the figs. Season it with good spices and saffron, and see that there is not too much of the broth, (just) so that the figs are covered.

I am not good with the camera and find taking good pictures of jelly dishes ridiculously hard

We covered the question of what sulcz can mean multiple times, but in this case it is a jelly of wine, quite possibly transparent. I found that boiling dried figs just one, very quickly, in water softened them enough to use without producing an excessively cloudy cooking liquid. Of course it is always possible that the jelly would be strained because of course you would do that, and there was no need to mention it in the recipe. We don’t know. I did not strain it and the result was still quite good. For ‘good spices’, I chose cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and pepper. They worked well with the heavy sweetness of the dish which is really more suitable for a winter evening than an August afternoon. Since food-grade isinglass is hard to come by, I opted for gelatin and despite having a standardised industrial product, I encountered the same problem many medieval cooks did: It did not gel properly. Refrigerated again after the party, it produced a flawless, firm jelly the next day though. The figs, only briefly parboiled, soaked up some of the liquid with its spices and became quite soft, almost gelatinous. They could still be pulled up by their stalks and popped into the mouth, though, which makes this a lovely party dish.

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