Blancmanger by any other name…

We are approaching the end of the section in the Mondseer Kochbuch that has notable parallels with the Buoch von guoter Spise. Today, there are two recipes for a classic dish that any other tradition would call blancmanger.

71 A spoon dish (muos) of almond milk, rice, and chicken breasts

Take almond milk (that is) thick and chicken breasts that are pulled apart (gezeiset) and put them into the almond milk. Stir it with rice flour and enough fat and add enough sugar to it. This is a Pulverisei.

72 A spoon dish (muos) of curdled milk (zemmilch), chicken breasts, and rice

Take thick curdled milk and torn-up (gezeist) chicken breasts and throw them into the milk and boil them. Stir them with rice flour and egg yolks and add enough fat and strew on enough sugar. This is called Pulverisei.

The Buoch von guoter Spise once again has close parallels, but it uses the familiar name:

76 A blamensir

If you wish to prepare a blamenser, take thick almond milk and chicken breasts that are torn apart (geceyset) and put that into the almond milk. Stir it with rice flour and enough fat, and add enough sugar. That is a blamenser.

77 A blamensir

A blamenser made of chickens torn apart (geceysten hüenern) on the chest. And prepare good almond milk. Chicken stirred in, then serve the almond milk with rice flour and passed-through violet flowers. Add enough fat and boil it until it is done, and add enough sugar. That is also called a blamenser.

A thickened (gestocketen) blamenser is made with thick, curdled (zäme) almond milk. (Take) torn-apart (geceyset) chicken breasts and throw them into the milk and boil them up, and stir them with rice flour and egg yolks. Add enough fat and strew on enough sugar. This is called a gestockter blamenser.

If we needed more evidence of the oddity this represents, it is provided in recipe #3: Oonce again, the Mondseer Kochbuch settles on a circumlocution to define what the Buoch von guoter Spise calls a blamenser. Clearly, there is conscious effort at work. The question is why, and I honestly have no idea. Perhaps a copyist of the recipes disliked the French associations of the name, or there really was some kind of bias against naming dishes. We know that German epic poets systematically omitted descriptions of food when they adapted French material. A similar discomfort with culinary ostentation could be at work here. But of course this would be counteracted by inventing the Latinate word Pulverisei.

The recipes themselves are also mildly interesting. Clearly, the concept of a blamensir had already removed itself far enough from its roots as a ‘white food’ that a violet or yellow dish can qualify in the Buoch von guoter Spise. The parallel recipe in the Mondseer Kochbuch is not just notably shorter, only including the version with egg yolks, it also fails to mention the base is thickened almond milk. This may have gone without saying, or it may indicate a Pulverisei was made with dairy, not almond milk, in this case. Again, we cannot say for sure.

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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