Ein kluge spise – A clever food

Wilt du ein kluge spise machen. slahe einen dünnen teic von eyern und von schoenem melwe. mache daz dicke mit schoenem brote und ribe daz. schele sur epfele. scharbe sie grober denne spec uf hüenre. di menge dar zu. nim einen leufel und fülle den teyc und teilez. und brat den in smaltze oder in butern ab ez niht fleischtac ist. und gibz hin.

[This is how you want to make a clever food. Beat a thin dough (or batter) of eggs and of fine meal. Make that thick with fine bread and grate that. Peel sour apples. Cut them larger than fat on hens. Mix them together. Take a spoon and fill the dough (or batter) and divide it. And bake it in fat or in butter if it is not a meat day. And give it out.  (trans. Alia Atlas)]

When I moved in, the previous inhabitants of this apartment left me all sorts of surprises.  Surprises like eggs that had expired in February, a fridge blanketed in mold, and terrifying mysterious bathroom scum, but also surprises like a variety of spices, nearly full bags of flour and sugar, cooking oil, and a bag of half-sprouted onions.  (Fun fact:  spring onions are the sprouted plant bits of normal onions and they’re supposedly high in protein and other nutrients.)  Unfortunately, I don’t have an oven and I haven’t been bold enough to attempt to bake bread in a pot yet, but I have become quite proficient at making a variety of flatbreads thanks to my abundance of flour.

This most excellent recipe is one of 101 found in the mid-14th century German cookbook Daz buoch von guoter spise.  

When it comes to historical authenticity, I am torn in several directions.  One part of me strives to be as accurate as possible based on primary sources of the time and archaeological evidence, but another part of me tempers the aforementioned historicist with practicality – for example, it just isn’t feasible for every orchestra to have historical reproduction instruments from every period of music they perform, let alone be able to play them.  There are ways to get a Baroque sound out of a modern orchestra that don’t involve gut strings and wind players completely relearning how to play their instruments.  My recent adventures in medieval cooking have followed the same trends – a desire for authenticity within the constraints of what I have available.

Medieval cooking for the modern peasant, if you will.

My own ‘clever food’ recipe substituted a mixture of vegetable oil, honey, and water as the binder in place of eggs and dash of nutmeg for taste.  I used the resulting dough to make little flat dumplings filled with chopped apples (I believe that’s what’s meant by “take a spoon and fill the dough”), which I then pan-fried.

Sadly, my camera charger-cable is currently MIA, so you’ll have to trust me that they looked (and were!) delicious.

For even more exciting medieval cookery, here’s the whole translation of daz buoch von guoter spise.  Enjoy!

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Ein kluge spise – A clever food

  1. THIS SOUNDS LIKE THE BEST!!! also, that old german is fantastically weird. just wanted to give you a heads up: i was excited to go try some of those recipes out for myself, but the link to the full translation is apparently broken. 😦 happy further adventures in peasant cooking!! 🙂

  2. Just updated the link, should work now. 🙂 Have fun!

  3. yay thanks! i love how many of them end with “gibt’s hin”… off to go cook some apple dumplings of my own!!

  4. Caren

    Sounds lovely! Maybe when you come home to visit you can cook some for me and mom! Love this place you have and you continue to amaze me with your talents!
    Caren W

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