Then Serve It Forth…

By Lady Rosemary Willowwood de Ste. Anne

With the warmth of summer comes grilling season, and in the middle ages as well as today, people looked for sauces to spice up what they ate. But as I explored last month, one of the uses of food was to regulate the health of the eater, depending on the ingredients used. You will also get two recipes for the price of one.

“Salsen” (Two Sauces)
from Das Kochbuch des Meisters Eberhard (15th c.)
Text recording and proofreading by Thomas Gloning [1]

Ein gutte salsen zu machen in der fastenn. Item nym merrich vnd zustoß den in einem möerserr vnd nym mandelkernn oder nuß vnd zustoß die auch vnd geuß ein wein dar an. Merrich bricht den stein garr serr, wenn man in isset in der kost.

Item ein andre salsenn. Saluia, petrocilinus, menta vnd pfefferr, das soll man zustossen mit essig, das ist ein salsen, die macht lustig zu essenn.

TRANSLATION: A good sauce to make during fast days. Item, take horseradish and pound it in a mortar, and take almond kernels or nuts and pound them as well, and pour in wine thereon. Horseradish “breaks the stone” (see discussion below) very well, if one eats it in the diet.

Item, another sauce. Sage, parsley, mint and pepper; one should pound them with vinegar – that is a sauce that makes one glad to eat.

This is totally my own translation from the German. It has been many, many, many years since I did Middle High German translations in college, so anybody who differs with my translation or has found a professional translation of these recipes, please feel free to offer! Any suggested changes will be added to the posting on the web site as I receive them. 

REALIZATION: Peel and chop a small raw horseradish root into half-inch cubes, or coarsely grate. I recommend that you use rubber gloves, as the root can burn your hands like chili peppers. (And don’t even THINK about wiping the tears from your eyes!) If you have a mortar and pestle large enough to hold the cubes, pound them into shreds in the mortar. The fumes during this process can get quite overpowering, so if you are sensitive, feel free to use a food processor. Add ½ cup blanched or slivered almonds, continue to pound (or process), and when comparatively smooth, add ¼ cup white wine, or until the sauce is the thickness you wish. The result of using the nuts and wine is that the horseradish is essentially thinned with heavy almond milk rather than vinegar. The acidity in the wine will act a little like vinegar, but the almonds will amooth it, and this will be much milder and creamier than purchased prepared horseradish.. Use as a spread on sandwiches, or as a condiment to grilled meats. Makes about 1 cup.

The second sauce is easily made in a mortar. Combine ¼ cup each fresh sage, fresh parsley. fresh spearmint, and cracked black pepper. Pound to a rough paste, and add enough vinegar to work into a thick sauce. This sauce is not as sharp as you might think, and is a good rub for steaks or lamb chops. Makes about ½ cup. 

If you are looking for authenticity (and are brave), both these sauces are made more easily in a Japanese gadget called a suribachi, which is a pottery dish with ridges worked into the clay, used with a wooden pestle. It does much better at grinding moist mixtures like sauces than a standard smooth mortar. One can find large rough stone mortars in some Latino markets, which may work as well.

The health aspect of this recipe is the comment about “breaking the stone”. Both horseradish and parsley were remedies for kidney stones in the middle ages. As is found in Culpepper, “Petroselinum [parsley] . . . groweth among the rocks and stones, where upon it took its name . . . Garden parsley is hot and dry, but the seed is more hot and dry, which is hot in the second degree, and dry almost in the third . . . The leaves are pleasant in sauces and broth, in which besides that they give a pleasant taste, they be also singular good to take away stoppings, and to provoke urine. . . . The seeds are more profitable for medicine; they make thinne, open, provoke urine, dissolve the stone, break and waste away winde, are good for such as have the dropsie . . . lastly they resist poisons, and therefore are mixed with treacle.” [2]

[1] ** Textgrundlage:

*** A. Feyl: Das Kochbuch Meister Eberhards. Diss. Freiburg i.B. 1963
*** Einrichtung: gescannt und 1 mal Korrektur gelesen Thomas Gloning
*** Kennzeichnung der Textelemente:
*** T = Titel; R = Rezept; U = Überschrift oberhalb eines Rezepts
*** o:e = o mit übergesetztemm e; v:: = v mit übergesetztem Doppelpunkt usw.
*** Die Silbentrennung wurde aufgehoben
*** Copyright:
*** To the best of my knowledge, this text is 'gemeinfrei' according
*** to German law. You may use this electronic version for private and
*** scholarly purposes, as long as this header is included.

*** URL: http://staff-www.uni-marburg.de/~gloning/kochkell.htm

[2] Gerard, John, The Herbal, Dover Publications, New York, 1975, p. 1014.