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THE CONVENT-KITCHEN IN THE ELEVENTH CENTURY.
Ad crucis hoc signum fugiat procul omne malignum.
Ekkehardus, monachus St. Gall:
Among the remarkable manuscripts which are ling of holy water, and the sign of the cross. preserved in the library of the convent of St. With this latter form the blessing was proGallen there is a ‘Liber Benedictionalis,' writ- nounced not only by priests on important ten about A. D. 1000, the contents of which occasions, but also by laymen at the commencethrow much light, not only upon the manner of ment of almost every transaction of daily life. life which was led in the convents, but also upon The sign of the cross was marked on the the state of civilization at that period generally. forehead and the breast, or over the object with
Ekkehard the fourth, or the younger, (born which they were about to be employed; it was A. D. 980, died A. D. 1036), monk and school- marked on coming and going, on retiring to rest, master in the convent of St. Gallen, and author on striking a light, over arms and books, over of the Casus St. Galli,' a work which for the furniture and clothes, and especially over food, information it contains respecting the middle of which they were about to partake. ages, especially in relation to Alemania, is of The question may arise, whether these and inestimable value, wrote, partly while yet a similar forms of blessing were really employed student and under the direction of his tutor in the convents not only at the commencement Notker, and partly in his riper years, various of the meal but for each separate dish, or whethpoems of greater or shorter length, such as mon er the verses of Ekkehard are to be considered umental inscriptions, titles for pictures, songs for mere poetical essays. The former opinion is the festivals, blessing at meals, &c., forming to confirmed by the fact that the most indifferent gether a tolerable volume, which bears the name actions, such as the putting on of a new garment, Liber Benedictionalis, and is marked No. 393 cutting the bair or the beard, and bleeding, were among the manuscripts of the Convent Library. at that period performed not only in the con
These poems are all in the Latin language, vents but throughout the whole of Christenand in rhyming hexameters, so called Leonine dom, with certain prescribed forms of prayer. verses, which are not remarkable for their beau- On the other hand the second opinion is unty, and the meaning of which is sometimes so doubtedly the correct one with regard to many obscure that the author felt himself obliged to of Ekkehard's verses, which contain medical make them intelligible to his readers, by the prescriptions, instructions regarding the effects of addition of a word or two in German or Latin. certain meats, and the like, and which do not at But notwithstanding the imperfections in form, all partake of the character of blessings. Cerand the total want of poetical feeling, these tain forms of prayer for meals are prescribed poems are among the interesting works which in the Benedictine rules, and in the regulagive us a glimpse into the private life and eco tions furnished to convents by the Frankish nomical relations of the middle ages. And es- emperors. Blessings for bread, for water, and pecially is this the case with the · Blessings at for salt, occur in various forms not only in the table' (benedictiones ad mensas), of which the Latin, but also in the Anglo-Saxon language. Archæological Society of Zurich intend shortly But none of those which have survived to our to publish an accurate copy. The following time, are so complete as the Benedictions of account is taken in a great measure from the Ekkehard. editor's preface, and contains what seems to be The single verses, — there are 265 of them, of greatest interest for the generality of readers. are quite unconnected with each other. Each
Benedictions, or blessings, are, as is well one contains the blessing of a dish or of a beverknown, those solemn acts, employed in the age which has just been served. But that which Mosaic worship, and adopted by the Christian gives a value to the order in which these blessreligion, by which the favor and grace of God is ings are arranged, is the circumstance that the sought upon any particular person, or thing, or separate groups seem to indicate the separate action. The usual ceremony which, since the divisions, the courses of a meal; this consisted of first ages of the Christian Church, has been the chief course, the dessert, and the symposium. connected with this benediction, was the sprink- | It is at least tolerably clear, that the author had
the intention not only to draw up a catalogue of the abbot Hartmuot, chosen A. D. $72, and a number of dishes, but also to give a poetical according to which they lived in St. Gallen for description of a feast in all its component parts. nearly two centuries, was quite adapted to this
The most sacred of all the articles of food, abstemious life. It was only in respect to the namely, bread, is naturally first mentioned, and beverage and the fat used in cooking that they that in all its different methods of preparation, departed from the Italian customs ; instead of and then an equally important necessary of life, the half measure of wine they allowed to each namely, salt. Then the meal commences, as is person a measure of beer, and instead of olivestill customary in many countries, with fish; this oil they used lard in preparing their food. is followed by poultry, butcher's meat, game, Each had his separate portion of meat and made dishes, and vegetables, and the meal closes drink. with dessert and various beverages. It is not to But the table assumed a very different apbe supposed that such a number and variety of pearance, after they had commenced to eat meats and drinks would at that period bave meat, and our monk gives us a very lively piccome upon a convent-table even upon great ture of the kitchen and larder of a Benedictine occasions; but it was the author's design that no convent eight centuries ago. If the Benedicsingle dish which was then known in St. Gallen tions of Ekkehard are of the greatest interest to should be excluded from blessing. Each separate the antiquarian, they likewise offer many reverse names therefore an article of food, which markable facts to the student in natural history; in his lifetime was either common or rare, which the more remarkable since the writings of the the mountains or the fertile plains of Alemania middle ages give but little information on the produced, or which the great commercial road, subject. The different sorts of grain were culwhich in the neighbourhood of St. Gallen wound tivated in almost greater variety than at present, along the valley of the Rhine, placed within the and converted into bread or porridge; but in reach of the affluent.
respect to fruits there was the greatest poverty, If during the eighth and ninth centuries the and none are mentioned except medlars. Furgreatest abstinence was ordered and strictly ther, a number of animals are spoken of as living observed in the convents, as well with regard to in Alemania which have since entirely disapthe nature, as to the quantity of the food which peared from that region, as the bear, the beaver, was consumed, these institutions subsequently the wild horse, the buffalo, the bison, the wild became the places where, after wealth and the goat, and the fallowdeer. desire of a more genial mode of life had found The bear is now only found in the Tessin an entrance, the care of the outer man, and the Alps, and that but seldom ; but it must in former art of preparing food attained to such a degree times have been abundant in other parts, for the of cultivation, that their inhabitants excelled history of the life of St. Gallus proves that the their contemporaries as much in the ease and stewards of the convent kept bear-hounds. The refinement of their lives as they did in the paths bear appears likewise in the Alemanian code of of learning and science; and the convent kitchen laws, and that as an animal which was preserved was for centuries considered a school for cooks. as game. With respect to St. Gallen the transition from The beaver has wholly disappeared from the the primitive simplicity and severity to variety rivers of Switzerland. But in the time of and luxury, of which the Benedictions of Ekker Conrad Gessner, A. D. 1565, it was still abunhard afford a lively picture, is very striking. dant; “ the Aar, the Reuss, and the Limmat Even in the ninth and tenth centuries the monks contain many; also the Birs near Basle.” Durwere not allowed to eat any meat, although their ing the middle ages the flesh of the beaver, woods were full of game and their stalls of which might be eaten on fast-days, was a favorite cattle; and on account of their want of the fruits article of food, and the beaver chase, for which of Italy, and the high price of fish, they were com
a particular kind of hound was kept, was among pelled to live chietly upon pulse and porridge. the favorite sports. This porridge was so common an article of food
Ekkehard says: in St. Gallen, that Gero* could not translate the
Sit feralis equi caro dulcis in hac cruce Christi. word “cibi” better than by porridge, and the word “coenare" by "eating the evening por According to Strabo, there were wild horses ridge.” The bill of fare which was drawn up by in the Alps; but allowing the truth of his state
ment, there were no longer any in the days of * The author of a literal interlinear translation of Pliny; far less can we suppose that a thousand the Rules of the Benedictines, which is among the
years later, and when the higher regions of oldest monuments of the German language, and one of the purest specimens of the Frankishi dialect; the
Switzerland were far more populous, wild horses MS. dates from the eighth century. - Eo. Dag. can still have existed. They must have been
runaway horses, roaming about wild on the Alps, | published by the Literary Society in Stuttgard, which are here meant. That the Germans, and according to which sauces were composed of sour especially the Alemans, ate the flesh of horses is grapes, sage, and garlic, or of wine, ginger, recorded by trustworthy writers.
honey, pepper, and garlic. Ekkehard says:
Nor are the dietetical rules and medicinal re
marks without interest ; as, for instance, that Signet vesontem benedictio cornipotentem. Dextra dei veri comes assit carnibus uri.
mushrooms, not to be hurtful, must be boiled
seven times; that bazelnuts are injurious, and These lines confirm the opinion of Cuvier, that garlic wholesome; that pulse is poison to a feverthe bison (vesons) and the buffalo, (urus, Germ. I patient, and that leeks are harmless only if taken urochs) are different animals. The existence of with a good deal of wine; that the meat of peathe bison in Switzerland is proved by the name cocks, swans, and due ks is indiges ible, and goats' of the village Wisendangen near Winterthur, milk very nourishing. The ignorance of the age formerly written (A. D. 808) Wisuntwangas is also very evident; thus the beaver is called a (Bison chase). The buffalo is now confined to
fish, and enumerated among
fishes. a single spot in all Europe, namely, one forest A number of the articles which are menin Lithuania ; but it is well ascertained that tioned, especially fruits, indicate the vicinity of formerly it existed in Switzerland, and in the the convent to the great commercial thoroughconvent of Rheinau is preserved a huge silver- fare to Italy, and its connexions with that counmounted buffalo's horn.
try. Through the intervention of Italian monasThe fallow-deer, so abundant in the forests of teries, not only spiritual nourishment, such as Switzerland in the days of Conrad Gessner, has manuscripts
, pieces of music, &c., but also many been totally destroyed or driven away.
temporal enjoyments, and especially rare and Ekkehard speaks of the peacock, the swan, costly delicacies, may have reached this celeand the crane.
We learn from the orders of brated and much visited convent. Even if chestCharlemagne, according to which the royal nuts, peaches, plums, mulberries, figs, and other farms were to be provided with peacocks, fruits were already cultivated on the shores of pheasant, ducks, pigeons, and doves, that the the lake of Constance, and in the domains of peacock, which is still eaten in England, was
the convent which bordered on the Rhine, at kept as early as the eighth century. The swan, least melons, pomegranates, olives, almonds, a native of northern Europe, visits Switzerland lemons, dates, kidney-beans, and many other but seldom ; but in the Salic laws it is spoken of articles, were the produce of more Southern as a domestic fowl. The crane likewise is but countries. And in the stewing of wine, in the seldom scen; but in former times it must have cooking of the quab with mushrooms, and in the been preserved, since by the Alemanian code : eating of these as a vegetable, we see traces of penalty is inflicted for stealing or killing this Italian customs ; the same may be said of the bird. Among fish the poet mentions the Trisca snaring of small birds, an occupation of which (quab),* which is still so well known. How the Lombardese are passionately fond, and for favorite a dish its liver must have been in the which they evince a decided talent. middle ages, is proved by the fact (vouched for
The intercourse of central Europe as well in the chronicle) that the lady-abbess of the con with the distant east as with the north, is proved vent of St. Felix at Zurich “consumed a whole by the mention of many articles which were vineyard, called the golden hill
, in quab-livers.” doubtless looked upon as dainties, and not easily Bread and salt give Ekkehard occasion to procured; such as spices, which were used in enumerate the various kinds of bread and sauces.
the preparation of made dishes ("cibi arte Among the former are several which are still facti”) and the composition of beverages; and common; as “ panis lunatus,” rolls in the shape likewise foreign fishes, as herrings and codfish ; of a half moon, made of the best wheat flour, it seems at least most probable that Ekkehard which were eaten in the convents during lent; speaks of the codfish, when he says they are still known in various parts of Switzerland and Suabia under the name “gipfel;” fur Sit cruce millena benedicta marina balaena. ther," panis elixus,” boiled bread, in the form
We now proceed to give a general view of of a ring; similar bread is still prepared. What the convent bill of fare ; enumerating the prinwas meant by sauce (“ salsa," - salsura”) may cipal fishes, and adding to each course a specibe clearly seen from the old kitchen-receipts
men of the pious culinary poet's verses. * A fish of very disagreeable appearance, which is
He commences with a prayer that God will abundant in the large rivers of Germany. It resem be pleased to preserve the guests assembled bles a large toad with the tail of a fish. The meal is
around the plentifully furnished board from all rarely eaten by any but the poorest persons, but the liver is esteemed a delicacy. – ED. DAG.
strife and contention; a prayer which will not
appear by any means superfluous, if we consider | dark and white mulberries, mulberry wine, how frequently in those days the most violent spiced mead, pounded berbs, spices, bran-cakes, quarrels arose at festive meals.
eggs, beans, chickpeas, vetches, lentils, pulse,
kidney beans. Bread.
fruits. Omne genus panis repleat benedictio donis. Triticeum panem faciat crux pestis inanem.
Da Petre de Româ sint mitia cedria poma.
Castaneas molles fac qui super omnia polles. Breadcake, pies, moon-shaped bread, boiled bread, toasted bread strewed with salt, egg Apples, olives, lemons, figs, dates, grapes, bread, yeast-bread, leavened bread, bran-bread, pomegranates, pears, medlars, quinces, chestwheat bread, rye-bread, oaten-bread, barley- nuts, peaches, plums, cherries, sour cherries, bread, new baked bread, cold and warm bread, hazelnuts, walnuts. bread baked in the ashes. After all the kinds of bread have been enumerated, there follows a
Vegetables. blessing to be spoken over the crumbs, which
Hoc holeris semen stomacho fac Christe levamen. are not to be wasted, or unworthily employed.
Saepius elixos repleat benedictio fungos.
Roots, herbs, boiled and raw leeks, boiled
mushrooms, cabbage of all kinds, melons, garlic, Piscis sit gratus crucis hac virtute notatus. Salmo potens piscis sit sanus et aptus in escis.
pumpkins, lettuce, herbs cut up in vinegar
(salad). Codfish, huso, salmon and salmon-trout, quab, pike, lamprey, the various kinds of trout, her
Beberages. ring, lesser lamprey, eel, perch, crawfish, pep
Vina vetustatis bona sint simul et novitatis. pered fish, shad, groundling, gudgeon, beaver, Non bene provisae confusio sit cerevisae. sturgeon.
Wine, must (new wine not fermented), new Birds.
and old wine, wine mixed with honey and spices, Crux benedicat avem faciatque sapore suavem.
cider, mulberry-wine, mulled wine, mead, honeyNil noceat stomachis caro non digesta pavonis. wine, beer, water. Peacock, pheasant, swan, goose, crane, duck,
We see that even travelling princes might be quail, pigeon, wood-pigeon and other kinds of content with the fare of a table served according doves, fowl, capon, chicken, ptarmigan, small
to the rules of St. Benedict, and if they were birds caught in snares.
disposed to criticize it would assuredly not be
the pious verses of the convent-poet, which Meats.
doubtless they swallowed whether they underSub cruce divinâ caro sit benedicta bovina.
stood them or not. But it is solely to this pious Christe crucis signum depinxeris hunc super agnum. custom of pronouncing benedictions that we owe Beef, veal, mutton, lamb, goat's flesh, kid, ox
this peep into the habits of that remote age. shoulder (roasted or boiled), pork (roasted or
Antiquity thought not of describing its life and boiled), bam, pig, bacon, bashed meat, boar, manners; it thought the existing state of things meat first boiled and then roasted.
too natural to imagine any necessity for it. It
was reserved for our time, which is always lookGame.
ing forward as well as backwards, to record for
the benefit of posterity how we lived and what Sub cruce divinâ sapiat bene quæque ferina. we ate. Ekkehard's “benedictiones ad mensas," Et semel et rursus cruce sit mcdicabilis ursus.
composed for boly service, and the long bills of Bear, wild boar, deer and doe, bison, buffalo, fare published (no one knows for what purpose,) wild horse, fallow deer, roebuck and hind, fawn, | by the High Steward of the Hannoverian Court, wild goat, chamois (boiled and roasted), hare, are equally characteristic of the two ages. marmot.
Hoc pigmentatum faciat crux addita gratum.
Milk, cheese, cheese with honey, pepper and wine, goat's milk, honey-comb, mulberry jam of