I was reading about traditional Czech dishes and it turns out that almost all of those that are popular nowadays originated in the 18-19 centuries. Are there any traditional Czech dishes that survived since the 15’s century?
Sure, I have a selection of recipes from 15th-17th century cookbooks. They are of course more expensive, more “noble” meals, because nobody wrote common recipes to cookbooks.
I can try to translate some recipes here … is there something you are after? There were a lot of … errr … mushes? don’t know correct English word. And often meat+sugar or honey or raisins, which is what I really don’t like (i HATE mixing of sweet and salty). Some sweet recipes are interesting and tasty.
As for common meals, you often know only general ingredients, but not exact recipe. Typical common ingredients were bread, meat (often pork or beef, and often sausages or similar pork-based products), peas, groats, souerkraut … and of course eggs, cheese. Sometimes it seems that they liked sour taste more than nowadays- vinegar was often used, or that souerkraut, which is very typical for bohemia even today. On the other hand common sweet meals were not especially sweet for our standards. For example cream was considered to be sweet enough by itself, so if cream was there, you did not have to add honey (or sugar, if you had it). Or something like “carrot jam” was used on cakes, also without any honey or sugar.
I’m not an expert but i think history is known for more simple dishes like noblemen ate venison, boars, ducks etc., poor men ate mush/puree with beans or suggar etc. Nowayday we do much more of cooking, more difficult plates and more ingredients… I don’t see “sirloin steak prepared with vegetables, spiced with black pepper, allspice, bay leaf and thyme, and boiled with double cream, served with dumplings and cranberries…” as a typical middle ages food. Just a little hint that past is simplicity, presence is more culinary.
btw. traditional food comes from ingredients that grows/you can find in the country, so here we got potatoes, garlic, parsley, celery, carrot, meat, cereals… also hops for the best beer
No, they were not simple. Common dishes yes, as always. But middle-ages had already very developed noble cuisine. Maybe not THAT developed as in 16th or 17th century, but there certainly were complicated recipes and some very special meals - not just whole roasted boars or whatever.
Your sirloin was not prepared like that, because they generally did not make cream-based sauces . Bohemian medieval sauces were often used in a similar way like our mayonaise or ketchup - very taste-rich used in small amount. And dumplings appear in 17th or even 18th century (i am not sure, but boiled dumplings are certainly not medieval).
And I must say that potatoes and beans were NOT used in medieval Bohemia. Potatoes became popular in 19th century, and beans in 16th or 17th century. Peas are typical for Bohemia from the earliest days, but not beans.
First of all, thank you for the reply, sir! Generally, I would like to try making some everyday meals of different social classes, unless it was a loaf of bread and a mug of ale of a villager What they ate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Well, not particularly. Because I just have no idea what can be there and what I could like. Do you have anything like a general list maybe? Is it clear from the names of the dishes what they are made of? If so then I could look through and say. It also depends on ingredients I have available here. You can most definitely exclude any fish dishes, I am not a big lover of fish. Meats + sugar/honey/raisins is okay for me.
No sugar addicts, good, dentist had less troubles, well, dr. Smith.
I belive this is because if you pickling food in salt or vinegar was a common way for making food lasting longer before the pasteurisation or the fridge where invented.
Ok, I will add recipes when I have mood to translate. So let’s start with something simple - soups.
Soup from beer and sweet cream (15th-16th century)
Mix and boil.
[easiest recipe I found :-)]
Beer soup (15th - 16th century)
Pour beer over fried onion and boil.
[I would add some salt too, but recipe does not say it. And yes, we are beer country.]
Cheese soup (15th century)
Put cheese in a hot water, and when it boils enough, sift it and press through a sieve. I you want, ad spices and fat.
[this is common in older recipes - they don’t say what spices you should add. It seems like they didn’t want to achieve specific taste; instead they
expect cook to know what tastes can be achieved with spices and let him decide.]
Soup from nuts and horseradish (15th - 16th century)
Chafe nuts and horseradish, add butter and mix it with warm water. Boil. Sweeten it with sugar. Dry slices of bread, put them in the bowl and pour the soup over them.
Almond soup (15th century)
Peel almonds, mash them and dissolve them in warm water. If you want to have it better, use sweet fruit wine instead of water and sweeten with sugar. After that add saffron, ginger and mace.
And just a little meat to show what more will come
Mush from beef (16th century)
Boil any beef, then mince it and dissolve with sweet wine or mashed eggs and mix. Add a bit of honey, raisins, cut almonds and spices: cinamon, ginger, pepper and saffron. Put it in hot butter and stew it well, until it is like roes.
[Don’t know how “like roes”. Just stew it.]
Cold beef livers (15th - 16th century)
Cut good beef livers in five pieces, roast them well, and then put them in any soup [meaning broth probably] in order to soften them. The cool them. Mash one piece in mortar together with roasted bread crusts, add pepper, ginger, aniseed, vinegar and honey and boil it all together until thick. Cool it, add rest of livers into it, and it will be good.
Cold livers with mustard (15th - 16th century)
Roast livers, cut them into slices and put them in honey cooked with ginger and mashed cloves. You can keep the so how long you want.
[Way of liver meal conservation. Mark that mustard is mentioned only in the title; there is none in ingredients.]
Calf meat loaves called dumplings (15th - 16th century)
Put calf meat in a cold water, then beat it well and mince. Add bacon, raisins, green parsley, four or five eggs, pepper, saffron and salt a bit. Boil water and throw in it small loaves made from this meat mixture.
[Meat balls … this was what they called “dumplings” in medieval Bohemia. Sometimes dumplings are also fried. Real boiled flour-based dumplings that are so typical for Czech republic today are not older than from 17th century, as far as I know. ]
Thanks, Petr, this all is very intriguing! I’m saving all of them for my collection.
Don’t they specify any proportions or amounts? They are most wanted for some uncommon combinations. This soup from beer and sweet cream, have you tried it? I’d say for me it’s the most bizarre combination. Do they really go well together? By the way, the recipe calls for sweet cream, what is that really? I mean if there is sweet cream, then there must be also non-sweet one…
No amounts. Well sometimes yes and it’s almost funny. Like the last one “take meat, mince it, and add four or five eggs”. You don’t know how much meat you should start with, but you know how many eggs Clearly cook had to have some experience to judge correct amounts by himself.
No, I never tried soup from cream and beer. However I tried once or twice welsh drink called Posset, which consists of beer and fat milk or cream cream, but is sweet, not salty. I found it strange at first, but not exactly bad, and after a while I got accustomed to it and even started to like it. “Sweet cream” - yes, there is also sour cream. Sweet cream is just normal cream, that is not sour.
Tomorrow some sweet mushes … I tried some of them and liked it. Generally I like sweet meals a lot
Oh and as I wrote previously that they did not sweeten much … it was about common people. Generally sweet taste was as liked as it is today, but sugar was expensive and honey was not that abundant so that everyone could eat sweets a lot. Nobles had enough money to pay for sugar and honey, so they ate sweet meals far more.
Ah, I see!
Are there any recipes of more substantial soups like goulash? With meats, veggies…
Keep them coming!
And one little curiosity that I found interesting - Arabian and Turkish lands were generally famous for their sweets, and Arabs and Turks consumed far more sweets and sweet meals than Europeans. I have heard that eating sweet meals gives your brain similar pleasure as drinking alcohol. This should have roots in prehistory. Sweet taste in nature often comes from fruit, which very quickly ferments, and partially into alcohol. So alcohol taste often accompanied sweet taste, so if something tasted like alcohol, it would probably be as nutritient as sugar, so brain reacts to alcohol taste in similar way as to sweet taste.
And then imagine Islam that forbids you to drink alcohol. If you then want to get similar pleasure, you have to eat sweets a lot. While in Europe we consumed a lot of alcohol, and that in order reduced taste for sweets. Not totally, but significantly.
In fact I am looking through the recipes and I can’t find any. Maybe this one, more like a stew, and described very generally:
Good meal from beef (15th - 16th century)
Cook beef well, add parsley [I expect root] and cut it in pieces. Add eggs, stew it in butter and then serve.
Really, I can’t find anything like a soup with pieces of meat, boiled vegetables and noodles for example. They often use clear soup from meat as a basis for sauces or mushes. Or add dried bread and some spices, eggs or whatever and then eat it as a soup. But soup with pieces of vegetables … don’t see it anywhere. It seems like they would rather crush the boiled vegetables and eat it like a mush.
One last meat
Hare in own juice (15th - 16th century)
Mix hare blood with wine and let stay in a warm place. Then mix it with beef broth, add hare cut in several pieces, fried slices of white bread and boil until soft. Sieve the soup, wash hare pieces in beer, then put them back in the sauce and let simmer. Add spices: pepper, cloves, cinanmon, saffron. Fry apples on pork fat and put them on top of hare.
And now sweet dishes
Egg mush (15th century)
Take a good wine and a honey and boil it together with spices. Then put eggs to it, add small spoon of flour and boil more.
Mush from noodles (16th century)
Make a dough from white flour and eggs, work it well, roll it thin and cut into thin stripes. Put it in hot cream, sweeten and boil well.
[Tried this one (with a cinamon on top) and it tastes good although it does not look quite interesting. However it is very filling.]
Mush from cooked dough for emperor’s or king’s court (16th century)
Add water to flour and carefully knead dough and boil it well in hot water. Heat the mortar, put charcoal around it, put dough in it and beat it for an hour, two or three. WHile doing so, add threescore of eggs and at last about three beer mugs of cream [about 1,5 liter]. Take care to keep mortar always warm and change charcoal around it. Add sugar or honey. When mush in mortar is baked enough, ie. dark red on top and white inside, take half of it, color it with saffron, and keep rest white. Let it cool down, and pour it over the sift so that half of a bowl is yellow and half is white. Sprinkle it with raisins and cut almonds. Dissolve rest of the mush in mortar with sweet wine, add almonds, and pour it around the mush in bowl. If you have very important guests, sprinkle with sugar. It is masterly mush to show and you have to approach it cleverly, but everyone should successfully make it along these instructions unless he is a drunkard.
[So this is kingly dish. And I just love the last note
I expect nowadays it could be done in smaller amount in a normal metal pot on a cooker. And bake it a bit in an oven after all ingredients are added. ]
Good “baba” (15th - 16th century)
Take curdled cream and put it on a sift to remove whey. Then mix in several eggs, add raisins and saffron and a bit of salt. Put dried slices of white bread in greased pan, put the mixture on top and bake.
[Cream can be curdled by adding vinegar or lemon juice and keep it hot but not boiling for several minutes. Sieved curdled cream is exactly Italian mascarpone - clearly it was done also in Bohemia.
“Baba” is a common name for a dish consisting of white bread or roll slices layered with usually sweet ingredients (sliced apples, pears, curd cheese, cream, jam …) and then baked. It is sometimes cooked even nowadays and I like it very much.]
Does it mean “break raw eggs into it”? I can see they liked that idea a lot.
This one is particularly curious. I’ve always considered curdled cream to be waste, while this seems to be a way of salvaging it. Because of my ignorance, when I sieve the curdled cream, do I add all the following stuff into the whey or into the… other part? And (I can seem very dumb at this point, I know) which part is whey? Is it the liquid watery part?
Yes. Well, you cook it more after adding eggs, so it is OK.
Yeah, whey is that watery part, and you want to remove it. For cooking you will use the solid white part, that will remain on the sift.