Elderflower Mus Again

The Mondseer Kochbuch dedicates a fair amount of space to making various soft dishes – Mus – with elderflowers:

88 A spoon dish (gemüß) with elderflowers

If you wish to prepare a good spoon dish of elder, set good milk by the fire. Break off the flowers and throw them into the milk. Let them boil in it quite well, then the milk smells of the flowers. Then strain the milk through a cloth and boil a semel bread porridge (semel gris) and also salt it. If you like, you can colour it yellow with saffron. Add enough fat to it, then you have a good spoon dish (muos).

89 Elderflower spoon dish (muos)

If you wish to prepare the dish in a different way, take good semel flour in a bowl, break enough eggs into it, and prepare a good batter from it. If you do not have enough eggs, pour milk from the pot into it and mix it together, then you have a good spoon dish (muos).

90 Elderflower spoon dish (muos)

But if you want to do it differently for the third time, take semel bread and grate it small on an iron grater. Put that into the milk, thus you have a good spoon dish (muos). Leave it white.

91 To prepare spoon dishes (gemüß) well

If you wish to prepare different spoon dishes without elderflowers, also prepare them with such ingredients (matery), thus they are good. Whatever kind of spoon dish you prepare with milk, the more eggs you add, the better they will be.

Preparing various Mus dishes with elderflower-flavoured milk was not at all uncommon and is documented in a variety of recipes. This set of recipes is intreresting for two reasons. First, because it suggests that different ways of making the Mus were common knowledge. Most other recipe sources describe a single way which could be read as disagreeing with each other. The unknown compiler of these recipes understood that there are numerous ways of preparing a given dish, not one true path. That marks a level of wisdom many modern food bloggers have yet to attain.

The second interesting point is recipe #91. If I read it correctly, it suggests that the recipes described here were also used with other aromatic ingredients. You could flavour milk with other herbs and flowers, no doubt. It looks like people did.

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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