Two Recipes for Green Tart

I love green tart, and these two recipes from the collection of Philippine Welser are interesting:

Beta vulgaris, c. 1550, courtesy of wikimedia commons

51 If you want to make a tart of greens (krautt dortten)

Take on your table sage leaves, eight marjoram sprigs, a handful of parsley, 5 leaves of lemon balm (melisen, Melissa officinalis), 12 leaves of bugloss, a little chervil (?), 10 endive leaves, 10 borage leaves, a little chervil (?), and about four times as much chard (mangelt) as there is of the other herbs. If they are clean, do not wash them and chop them small. Then put them into hot fat and fry (reschs) them in it. Then put them in a bowl and grate cheese of the best kind into it, a little ginger, pepper, sugar, and 10 eggs or more, until it is quite thin. Mix it well together and pour it out on a base that is very thin, and let it bake. When it is almost baked, put a little butter on it and sprinkle it with sugar. This is for two tarts, take half as much to make one and let it bake fully.

52 If you want to make a tart of greens (krautt dortten)

Take young chard (piesen) and all kinds of fragrant herbs, wash them, press them out well, and fry them in fat. Then put them into a bowl and grate good cheese into it as well as a wheaten bread. Put this in with the herbs and stir it together. Take eggs and a little cream, colour it yellow and season it with good spice powder. Stir it together well and make a base, put it into the tart pan and pour the filling on it. Cover it with another (dough) sheet and close it with a wreath (braided edge). Let it bake, but grease the pan with fat beforehand, then it will not burn. If you want it sweet, add sugar. When it has baked for a while, but a hole in the top and put in some sweet butter and put it in (repetition?). You can also bake this in an oven.

While this is not quite exactly the identical recipe, the two are so close to each other that they are functionally the same thing. Recipe #51 gives an unusually detailed list of the herbs and spices required while #52 remains unspecific. Recipe #52 calls for cream, which #51 omits, and specifies the addition of a top crust which is not mentioned in #51. Altogether, though, this is the same filling of chard, herbs, cheese, eggs, and spices we know in various iterations from several other recipes. I am quite fond of it, though I haven’t tried this sopecific mix yet.

One interesting feature is that the two recipes use a different name for chard. Recipe #51 calls it mangelt, a cognate of the modern Mangold, while #52 has piesen, a word that today only survives in dialects. This suggests that the two recipes originate from different sources and were copied faithfully into one collection at one point without standardising the vocabulary. This flexible recombination of recipes and whole sections seems to be a feature of many German recipe collections.

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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