Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Medieval Hot Dog Stand?

I'm browsing through the collection of "Culinary Prints" at Academia Barilla when I come aross this image.

La grigliata - The Grill
17th century German etching
Livio e Wilma Cerini di Castegnate Collection

On the website it's described as "A rare representation of a women selling grilled vegetables outdoors." A nice, simple picture. No surprises in terms of cooking utensils or methods. No big deal. I'm about to go on to the next image when I take a closer look at what's in the customer's hands. For all the world, it looks like a sausage in a bun. Maybe it's just being served with a piece of bread? No, it definitely looks like the bread is cut down the middle, with the sausage between the halves.

Now the common belief is that sausage sellers first started putting sausages into split rolls sometime in the late 19th century, so I doubt my own eyes and post a link on a cooking mailing list. The quick consensus is that it does indeed look like a sausage in a bun. Then someone suggests that the caption on the etching might shed some light on things. My German is only good enough to know that it says something about "good fried sausages", but a better translation is provided moments later.

Here, a decent sausage is roasted for not much money, with which hunger can be appeased but not thirst.
This (thirst) can be appeased later as much as someone wants in a place where wine and beer is sold.
[translation courtesy of Emilio Szabo, via the SCA-Cooks mailing list]

So the notes are incorrect - the woman is selling sausages, not vegetables, and she is serving them in a bun. No sign of ketchup or mustard though.


kuechenmeyster said...

Hi Doc,

the german federal state Thüringen and Franken, part of the federal state Bavaria, are still quarreling about, who has the oldest medieval "Bratwurst"- (roasted sausage) recipe. Especially the two Franconian cities Regensburg and Nürnberg claim to have the oldest evidence vor "Bratwurstbuden" (roasted sausage stalls). I think that at least for Regensburg it is recorded, that they sold sausages with bread or rolls and Sauerkraut. I' ll check my books and give you proper proof one of these days.

But I don't need to say, that between hot dogs and roasted sausage rolls is a very big differrence. Not only the recipes for the sausages and their preparations are different, the rolls are different too.

a stitch in time said...

I could have guessed that the kuechenmeyster would hop on that topic before me... and I wanted to toss the Bratwurstbude from Regensburg in as well.
Just to add a little detail, though: As far as I know, the Bude in Regensburg is said to have sprung into life to cater for the workers on the Regensburg Bridge (which was built in the 12th/13th century). And it is just not practical to not slice open a bun or put a hot sausage in between two slices of bread... burns your fingers and leaves you with too many things to handle at once.
And now I'm hungry, thanks to you.

kuechenmeyster said...

Yes!!! I was faster than you ;).

The Bratwurst is very ancient, but few sources survived to give evidence. Greeks, Romans, Celts and Germans roasted sausages on fire. Especially the roman “lucanicae” are said to be the ancestors of the german Bratwurst.(1)
But the true history of the german kind of roasted sausage begins in the middle ages. A postmedieval document in Nürnberg with the recipe for Bratwurst is dated 1595 and was long believed to be the oldest recipe. But in 2000 an archivist, Peter Unger, found a bill for sausage skins to be delivered to the monastery of the maidens in Arnstadt dating to 1404.(2) So the Thüringer Rostbratwurst celebrated its 600th birthday in 2004. A legend says, that in the 7th century sorbish settlers entered Thüringen and caused the inhabitants to flee. On the road one of the refugees is said to have invented the Bratwurst.(3) The problem is, that nether the bill nor the legend give any clue to the recipe. The historian Michael Kirschlager claimes to have found the oldest recipe in Thüringen.
Much older are the records for stalls selling Bratwürste. In 1134 a kiosk is reported in Regensburg, selling Bratwurst to the construction workers of the cathedral and of the “Steinerne Brücke” (stone bridge). In 1146 the “Wurstkuchl” (sausage kitchen) was build near the salt house directly to the city wall.(4)
In the 14th century the “Bratwurstglöcklein” (Glöcklein = little bell; named after a bell hanging from the wall of the chapel) was build in Nürnberg directly to the walls of the Moritz chapel. From the beginning it was quite famous and many people, including many celebrities, ate there. Its tradition lasted till the 20th century, when it was destroyed in WW II by bombs. But the original recipe of the “Glöcklein-Bratwurst” is still used in Nürnberg.(5)
There were and are still many different recipes for Bratwurst used in Germany, depending on the region or town you are in.

These are the information I could find in my books. For further proof I have to go to the library.


Čerpnjak Dorothea: Kleine Kulturgeschichte der Bratwurst. Eine Lieblingsspeise erobert die Welt. Leipzig 2005. (Cultural History of the Bratwurst. A favoured Dish conquers the World)

Dünnebier, Anna/ Paczensky, Gert von: Kulturgeschichte des Essens und Trinkens. München 1999. (Culutral History of Food and Drink)

1 Čerpnjak, p. 8-12; Dünnebier, p. 53, 54, 55

2 Čerpnjak, p. 28

3 Čerpnjak, p. 29

4 Čerpnjak, p. 30-31; Dünnebier, p. 126

5 Čerpnjak, p. 30-31

kuechenmeyster said...

By the way, if just one little addition to make:

17th century isn't middle ages any more. At least in british and german historic science the middel ages end about the first quater of the 16th century.

Doc said...

Thanks for the info on wurst. I should really do more research on the German side of things (though I'm far from exhausting what's available on England and France).

You're correct that the 17th century isn't medieval - I was just too amused with the image to pass it up. In general I actually tend to hold a more limited definition of "medieval", specifically 1000-1500 C.E. This is strongly connected to my culinary perspective - European cooking started to change drastically after 1500.

There are a number of recipes for sausages in "Das Kuchbuch der Sabina Welserin" (1553), including one for "prattwirst". Alia Atlas translated that to bratwurst.

The original is #25 in Dr. Gloning's transcription.

kuechenmeyster said...

I'm sorry, my text gave the wrong impression. Let me rephrase it:

The Nünberg recipe is said to be the oldest still used one.

Additionally it is trademarked. You are allowed to call your sausage "Nürnberger Bratwurst" when you make it according to the recipe, which limits the variaties, and when your butchery is located in Nürnberg.

There are lots of historic recipes but most of them were changed or forgotten.

Especially here in Franken it seems to be a national sport to claim the antiquity of your town's variaty of Bratwurst. There are several cities quarreling to have older still used recipes than others.