Rice in Almond Milk Again

Another long day, another short recipe from the Mondseer Kochbuch:

69 To prepare rice well boiled

Take rice and pick it over well, wash it nicely, and lay it in a pot. Do not salt it too much, and boil it so that it becomes dry. Mix it with almond milk and stir it a little until it boils again and turns thick, and serve it with sugar.

This is a fairly basic and unsurprising recipe. Cooking rice in almond milk or milk is the most commonly attested method in German medieval recipes, and the consistency that is aimed for generally is soft to mushy. There are similar instructions from other sources in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries providing more detail. Meister Hans, for example, has the following around 1460:

Recipe # 105 Aber von Reiß den mach also
Again of rice, make it thus
Item wash rice nicely in warm water. Pour the rice into a pot and pour water into it (to) a thumb’s width above the rice. Set it down and let it cool. And once you wish to prepare it, pour almond milk into it and set it by a slow fire (
auf ein küle – lit. on a coolness) and stir it until it thickens. It will stay as thick as you can manage best.
If you would know whether it is cooked, take the grains between the fingers. If they mash and are not hard, it is done. Serve it with sugar.

As late as the 1550s, the idea is the same in the Kuenstlichs und Fuertrefflichs Kochbuch:

4 To cook rice

Take thick milk and let it boil. Pick over (klaube) the rice cleanly, and when it has been cleaned (erklaubt), put it into a bowl. Pour boiling water over it and blanch it well, then strain off the water. When the milk is boiling, add the rice and set it into the coals and let it boil until it becomes soft. Then add sugar, and you shall salt it when you wish to serve it.

Meanwhile, the idea of cooking rice so that the grains remain separate, as we tend to prefer it today, was considered an alien, oriental habit.

The Mondseer Kochbuch is a recipe collection bound with a set of manuscript texts on grammar, dietetics, wine, and theology. There is a note inside that part of the book was completed in 1439 and, in a different place, that it was gifted to the abbot of the monastery at Mondsee (Austria). It is not certain whether the manuscript already included the recipes at that point, but it is likely. The entire codex was bound in leather in the second half of the fifteenth century, so at this point the recipe collection must have been part of it. The book was held at the monastery until it passed into the Vienna court library, now the national library of Austria, where it is now Cod 4995.

The collection shows clear parallels with the Buoch von guoter Spise. Many of its recipes are complex and call for expensive ingredients, and some give unusually precise quantities and measurements. It is edited in Doris Aichholzer’s “Wildu machen ayn guet essen…” Drei mittelhochdeutsche Kochbücher: Edition, Übersetzung, Quellenkommentar, Peter Lang, Berne et al. 1999

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