A Medieval and Renaissance German Spice Chest

Spices and Condiments in Several German Cookbooks (14th to 16th centuries)

  Daz büch von güter spîse
before 1355
101 recipes
Ein alemannisches Büchlein von guter speise
start of 15th C.
69 recipes
Das Kochbuch Meister Eberhards
before 1450
24 recipes
Maister Hannsen des von Wirtenberg Koch
before 1460
12 recipes
Livre de cuisine de Bâle (Prentki)
1462-1467
64 recipes
Ein mittelnieder- deutches Kochbuch
15th C.
103 recipes
Ein new Kochbuch Max Rumpolt
1581

2016 recipes
 

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

Cinnamon

1

     

3.1

4.8

6.7

Cardamom          

1

0.1

Cloves

2.1

 

8.3

 

3.1

16.5

3.2

Spices (unspecified)

32

55.1

25

25

32

3.9

5.1

Galingale

2.1

       

1

 
Ginger

12.1

2.9

4.2

8.3

12.5

24.2

9

Grains of Paradise          

1

 
Nutmeg

1

   

8.3

4.7

2.9

5.1

Pepper

27.1

27.5

8.3

8.3

7.8

36.9

27

Saffron

18.7

7.2

4.2

33.3

15.6

31.1

6.9

Zedoary          

1

 
Garlic

4.2

4.2

   

1.6

1

2.8

Dill            

0.4

Anise

8.3

       

1

0.8

Capers            

0.5

Lime            

9.3

Coriander            

0.8

Cumin

7.3

       

1

1.6

Juniper            

2.3

Herbs (unspecified)

9.4

 

4.2

 

1.6

 

13.1

Bay leaf            

0.2

Marjoram            

0.4

Mustard

1

       

1.9

1.8

Onion

1

         

9.1

Parsley

6.2

10.1

12.5

16.7

15.6

11.6

8.3

Horseradish            

0.9

Rosemary        

1.6

 

0.1

Sage

10.4

     

3.1

   
Honey

21.9*

21.7

4.2

8.3

14*

31.1

12.8*

Sugar  

7.2

 

8.3

 

10.7

 

* The asterisk indicates that we cannot distinguish between honey and sugar in this source.

[This table is adapted and translated from one in Michel Balard, "Épices et condiments dans quelques livres de cuisine allemands (XIVe - XVIe siècles", in Carol Lambert, ed., Du manuscrit à la table: essais sur la cuisine au moyen âge . . . (Montréal: Les Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1992), pp. 200-201.]

 

A selection written by a Arab traveler shows the spices available in a German city in the 11th century.

from Howard L. Adelson, Medieval Commerce (Princeton, N.J.: D. Van Nostrand Co., 1962) "Reading No. 32: A Description of Mainz by al-Tartushi, who visited that city in 1083 A.D., quoted by Qazwini in the Thirteenth Century."

"Mainz is a very large city which is in part inhabited and the rest is sown [with crops]. It is situated in the land of the Franks on a river called the Rhine, and it is rich in wheat, barley, spelt, vineyard, and fruit. Dirhems (i.e. Moslem silver coins) from Samarcand of the years 301 A.H. (i.e. 913-914 A.D.) and 302 A.H. (i.e. 913-914 A.D.) are found there with the names of the issuing ruler and the date of issue. Al-Tartushi says, ‘I hold them to be coins of the Samanid Nasr ibn Ahmed (i.e. the ruler of Samarcand in the years 914-943 A.D.).’ On occasion spice, which comes only from the farthest Orient, is also found there, whereas Mainz is situated in the farthest Occident: for example, pepper, ginger, cloves, spikenard, costum (i.e. an Oriental aromatic spice) and galanga, which are imported from India, where they occur in quantity." [pp. 164-165]

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Author: David Dendy © 1998-2002
This page was last updated on 17/02/02.