A Liver Tart

Another one of Philippine Welser’s tart recipes, and this one shows how much modern tastes have changed:

40 If you want to make a liver tart

Take a calf’s liver, let it boil well and chop it small afterwards. Take 4 sage leaves, 3 marjoram steydlin (branches? bundles?) and spikenard or roses so that it smells of it, and chop it with the liver. Then take half a pound of sugar, 2 spoonfuls of pepper, a handful of pounded almonds, a handful of grated semel bread, 9 eggs, and a piece of fat as large as for a water soup. Stir these things well together, salt it a little, and pour it on a tart bottom. Let it bake gently for about an hour. Take half of the abovementioned almonds, add sugar and rosewater, and when the tart is just baked enough, spread the moistened almonds on it as thinly as possible with your finger so it is covered as thinly as possible all over. Then let it bake another half of a quarter hour, thus it is proper.

The recipe is comfortably set between one for strawberry tart and a pancake made with grated bread and almonds, clearly not out of place there. I doubt even many adventurous modern eaters could be brought around to it, though. The idea of eating meat in a sweet dish has become quite alien to the European palate. We can still see how liver goes well with pepper, sage and marjoram and might countenance almonds – effectively a filler, really – but sugar in this quantity is disconcerting. Depending on the amount of liquid involved, this looks to become either a liver custard or a sweet variety of Leberwurst. I must admit it makes me curious enough to try it, but I would still not serve it to anyone.

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).

This entry was posted in Uncategorised and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *