A 16th Century German Meal

The Adamastor Yule Feast XXXIV (9th December 2000)

This aimed to be a simple two-course meal for 20 people, taken mostly from German recipes of the 16th century, with one or two from a 14th century collection. I am indebted to various SCA people who have made available translations of these cookbooks – see details below.

This particular feast was a lot of fun to cook – I really enjoyed the German recipes, which are quite different to the bulk of medieval recipes with which I’m familiar, namely the English and Mediterranean ones. I found a wide variety of different dishes to choose from, and some excellent flavour combinations.

I have reproduced below the translations of the original recipes, with notes on my experience of the dish.

Bibliography

Daz buoch von guoter spise (1345 – 1354), translated by Alia Atlas

Das Kuchbuch der Sabrina Welserin (1553), translated by Valoise Armstrong

Marx Rumpolt, Ein New Kochbuch c. 1581, translated by M. Grasse

On the tables:

Bread, Cervelatwurst, Bratwurst, radishes, pickled vegetables

45. Or take a radish/ cut in small and thin/ or fine diced/ season it with vinegar/ oil and salt/ so it is good too.
(Marx Rumpolt)

A very simple salad – I sliced them into thin rounds. The bite went well with the sausages.

No. 48 Ein condimentlin
Flavor caraway seeds and anise with pepper and with vinegar and with honey. And make it gold with saffron. And add thereto mustard. In this condiment you may make sulze (pickled or marinated) parsley, and small preserved fruit and vegetables, or beets, which(ever) you want.

(Guoter Spise)

I really liked this pickle recipe – the sweet-sour of the honey and vinegar gave a wonderful flavour. I used onion, carrot and mushrooms and diced the vegetables very finely, to try and give a sort of a spread for bread. I didn’t have time to pickle this properly, the vegetables sat in the marinade overnight; perhaps they would have softened and broken down more with longer pickling.

Sabina Welserin has recipes for Bratwurst and Cervelat, but I bought commercial versions instead.

First Course

Garlic roasted leg of mutton
Salt the leg/ and skewer it (on a spit) / and when it is half roasted/ so take fresh garlic/ that is quite young/ lard (cut small slits and insert the garlic) therewith/ and let it finish roasting/ and if you wish to prepare it/ so make a brown broth (gravy) thereto/ cut a little new garlic therin/ put a little vinegar and crushed pepper therein/ and let it simmer therewith/ and if you prepare it so/ it is a lovely roast to eat/ And so can (the) Nobility and farmers well eat it.

(Marx Rumpolt)

The garlic cloves break down into a mush when this is cooking. The best part of this was the gravy – I added garlic, pepper and vinegar to the meat juices and cooked it down, then served the sliced roast in the gravy.

155 To prepare chicken in rosemary
Set the chickens in broth, so that the broth completely covers the chickens. Let them cook about halfway and take rosemary, about the length a finger bone, from the bush. For a meal put a good handful on the chickens, but not too much, so that it does not become bitter. Take after that the livers from all the chickens, let them boil up in the broth and put some good mace therein. Let it cook together well, before you serve it.

(Sabrina Welserin)

I’m rather enamoured of this recipe. I basically potroasted the chickens in a standard commercial chicken broth, with a generous sprig of rosemary, and then drained them and browned them in the oven. The potroasting makes the chicken very tender and with a discernable rosemary flavour. The gravy had a good flavour, but the chicken livers weren’t enough to thicken it and it was a bit thin.

8 To make a sauce with apples for game and small birds
Take good apples and peel them and grate them with a grater and put a little fat in a pan over [the fire] and let it become hot and put the apples in it and let them roast therein. After that put good wine thereon, sugar, cinnamon, saffron and some ginger and let it cook together for a while, then it is ready. One should boil the small birds first and then roast them in fat.

(Sabrina Welserin)

Basic applesauce, with additional flavour from the frying of the apples and the saffron. People were eating this on bread, I assume it was enjoyed!

106 To make an herb tart
Take one handful of sage, a handful of marjoram and some lavender and rosemary, also a handful of chard, and chop it together, take six eggs, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, raisins and rose water and let it bake.

186 To make an herb tart
Take spinach, blanch it and chop it and grate Parmesan cheese into it, a little pepper, small raisins, melted butter therein. Salt it and bake and make a tart out of it, as one normally makes covered tarts.

(Sabrina Welserin)

I have combined these two recipes, since I liked the herb combination in the first one but wanted to included cheese. This is effectively a quiche with spinach and herbs – I liked the lavender flavour.

A dish of lentils
Take lentils/ wash them fine clean/ and soak them. Take also a good beef-broth/ let simmer/ cut onion and a little garlic into it/ so that it comes nice and thick/ and when it is cooked/ so put green well-tasting herbs/ that have been chopped fine/ thereto/ and cooked bacon/ let it simmer therewith/ so it becomes good and tasty. You can also cook lentils without onion/ how one likes to eat it/ so it may be prepared.

(Marx Rumpolt)

I shouldn’t cook lentils for the Shire, but I really enjoy them and always forget that other people don’t… This was a very hearty flavour, the beef broth and bacon add a lot of backbone to the lentils, as did the herbs. I liked it, but as usual I did far too much…

6. Green field salad (field greens) prepared / with pomegranate seed sprinkled/is pretty and decorative.

23. Take hard boiled eggs/ serve them especially beside the salad/ sprinkle them with green parsley and salt/ and pour vinegar over.

46. You can also arrange a salad in a bowl/ green white and red/ nicely made like a rose/ so it is decorative/ good and welltasting.

(Marx Rumpolt)

I’d never thought that cold hard-boiled eggs were authentic for medieval salad, but blow me down, here they are! These various salad recipes suggested that mixed lettuce (red and green) and herbs would be authentic (alas, I couldn’t find pomegranate seeds), and I served the hard-boiled eggs sliced on the side.

Second Course

87 To make a pear tart
Then take the pears and peel them and remove the cores and divide the pears into two parts and cut them into slices as wide as the pear is and turn them over in a little good flour. Then heat up some fat and roast them therein, until they are a little browned, afterwards prepare the pastry shell and lay them on top of it, close together. Take cinnamon, sugar and raisins mixed and sprinkle them on the crust and over the top of it, let it bake a while. After wards take Malavosia, put sugar into it and cinnamon, let it boil together, pour it over the tart and let it cook a short while.

(Sabrina Welserin)

A fairly standard fruit tart, with the pears being floured and fried first to give them extra flavour. I pre-baked the tart shell, which was a basic shortcrust pastry. Malavosia is a kind of sweet wine; I used a dessert wine.

89 To make a strawberry tart
Make a pastry shell and let it become firm in the tart pan. Afterwards take strawberries and lay them around on top as close together as possible, after that sweeten them especially well. Next let it bake a short while, pour Malavosia over it and let it bake a while, then it is ready.

(Sabrina Welserin)

This was a very good recipe, the only problem being that strawberries contain a lot of water, and the filling was very runny after I’d added sherry (a different take on Malavosia). But it didn’t seem to impair the diners’ enjoyment of the dish, which vanished in record time.

199 To make Spanish pastries
First prepare a firm dough with eggs and fat and roll it out very thin, as long as the table, and sprinkle ground almonds and sugar, butter or fat over it and roll it up over itself like a sausage. Afterwards cut it in pieces and close up both ends. In this manner make one after the other and turn the underside to the top. And bake it in a smooth pan, with fat in the pan. And let it bake in a weak heat, with a hot cover over the top, and serve it cold.

(Sabrina Welserin)

This is very similar to Andalusian and Italian recipes for a pastry/almond/sugar roll, but the addition of butter pieces to the filling creates a flaky-pastry effect, fairly light and crumbly. Alas, I overcooked these, having got all sidetracked with the dancing.

Jehanne de Huguenin