Mouthwash for Swollen Gums

Just a short thing that showed up in the cookbook of Philippine Welser. A translation job rolled in at the last minute, cutrting into my spare time. A more culinary post will follow soon.

2 An art for someone whose gums have swollen

Take one and a half Lot oregano (wolgemut), one Lot of mint (Damentten), a quentlein of ginger root, a quentlein of elecampagne (allet), one Lot of roses, be they fresh or dried, and three spoons full of rose vinegar, all together boiled in half an Augsburg Maß of wine. You must let it boil down by half and let it stand in the pot overnight, then strain it through a cloth. You must also add a quentlein of oak leaves into all of it.

Wash out your mouth with this warm water three times, once in the morning on an empty stomach, once at midday, and once at night when you are about to go to sleep.

This recipe actually has a reasonable chance of working, given the antibacterial and astringent properties of the hernbs involved. I have not yet tried it, but there are enough data points to reprroduce it with some degree of confidence. The Lot is 1/32 of a pounds, a unit that varied between cities and regions, but usually weighed in between 15 and 18 grammes. The quentlein was 1/4 of a Lot. An Augsburg Maß of wine would come in at about a litre. The greatest points of uncertainty are whether to use the herbs dry or fresh and how big the spoon to measure the vinegar was.

Philippine Welser (1527-1580), a member of the prominent and extremely wealthy Welser banking family of Augsburg, was a famous beauty of her day. Scandalously, she secretly married Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg in 1557 and followed him first to Bohemia, then to Tyrol. A number of manuscripts are associated with her, most famously a collection of medicinal recipes and one of mainly culinary ones. The recipe collection, addressed as her Kochbuch in German, was most likely produced around 1550 when she was a young woman in Augsburg. It may have been made at the request of her mother and was written by an experienced scribe. Some later additions, though, are in Philippine Welser’s own hand, suggesting she used it.

The manuscript is currently held in the library of Ambras Castle near Innsbruck as PA 1473 and was edited by Gerold Hayer as Das Kochbuch der Philippine Welser (Innsbruck 1983).

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