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German Sausage Stuffing Ring


This is a Wurstbugel, or sausage measure, found in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nurnburg. My friend Aelfwyn spotted this and shared it because she knows how much I love sausage things. This was a completely new tool to me, and now I want one. The information below is my best effort to translate the information on the museum’s website. The link above provides all the original text, plus some detailed photos.

The body of the sausage measure is a brass plate with a rectangular basic shape. Towards one end, the plate widens slightly conically and merges into a relatively large and approximately circular eye. The other end kinks almost at right angles and ends in a tapered tip, the so-called degumming blade. However, the cutting edge is dull and serves to allow the careful removal of the intestinal mucus from the sausages to be filled with sausage meat. Both sides of the sausage measure are richly engraved and each has a wreath running along the edge. The engravings on one side also show the date “1601” as well as a pig running from the tip of the slicer blade toward the kink. In addition, on this side of the hanger, a broad, short sausage is notched on the edge of the eye and the initials “FW” are notched in the middle. The engravings on the other side show a cow walking from the top of the slicer blade towards a butcher. The craftsman depicted in elaborate clothing holds a meat cleaver in one hand and an hourglass in the other hand. He is undoubtedly a butcher. Along the edge of the eye, a narrower, longer sausage is scored on this side compared to the other side. This richly decorated sausage measure shows that even small or utilitarian tools or tools may be elaborately decorated. The very beautiful overall maintenance of the piece speaks in any case for a very careful handling of it.

The term” sausage measure “most likely comes from the museum. When purchasing the implement in the year 1884 “Wurstmaß” was used to designate it. The once common, but forgotten and therefore correct term is “sausage bar”. This is in various dictionaries of the 18./19. Century. In the German Dictionary of the Brothers Grimm of 1854 there are references to terms such as “wurstbogen” (15th century) and “sausage bar” (worsteboghel, 14th century). In other encyclopedias, the term “sausage horn” is mentioned, if the device was not made of brass, but made of horn. In Johann Heinrich Zedler’s Universal Lexicon (1732-1750) it says: “sausage bar is made of brass, horn or wood ring, with a small handle, through which sausages are made by filling pig-guts. The butchers used the eye (hole) of the sausage measure as a size guide; the intestine could thus be filled to a constant diameter, and the length could be measured against the length of the sausage measure. After filling, the sausage strand could be pulled through the eye and reshaped as necessary. The blade-like kink on the other end of the device served as a sort of degumming blade for removing the intestinal mucus. With the disappearance of the device from the artisanal production since about the middle of the 19th C, the actual name “Wurstbügel” fell into oblivion, the new term “Wurstmaß” prevailed. Sausage measures were not official equipment for determining sausage sizes; they were simply helpful guides. Sausages were always sold by weight, not shape, so the official control devices were calibrated scales.

One of the earliest images of a sausage measures comes from Die Hausbucher der Nurnburger Zwolfbruderstiftungen, a book that has images of craftsmen who were part of this organization from the late Middle Ages until the early 1800s. The image of Hans Layr, from 1586, him holding several sausage measures. (http://www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de/75-Amb-2-317b-46-r/data)


Siuts, Hinrich: Rural and handicraft tools in Westphalia. The old agricultural and agricultural implements 1890-1930, Münster 1986, p. 191;

Schmidt, Leopold: The History of sausage measure, in: people and homeland (12) 1959, S. 4-5;

Rumpf, Karl: Of the guild system of the city Alsfeld with special consideration of the guild signs in the museum, in: Hessian homeland (2) 1958/59, P. 13-17, here: P. 17;

Pierer’s Universal Lexicon, Volume 19, Altenburg 1865, pp. 395-396; Müller, Wilhelm / Zarncke, Friedrich: Middle High German Dictionary, Leipzig 1854-1866, p. 387;

Adelung, Johann Christoph: Grammatical-critical dictionary of the High German dialect, Leipzig 1793-1801, pp. 1633-1634;

Zedler, Johann Gottfried: Great Universal Lexicon, 26th volume, 1749, p. 211. – Gazetteer (11/12) 1884, p. 141;

What is German? Questions about the self-image of a pondering nation. Accompanying volume to the exhibition in the Germanic National Museum, Nuremberg, June 2 to October 3, 2006. Nuremberg 2006, p. 248;

Always the right measure. From sausage size to environmental analysis. History and Activities of Environmental Analysis Nuremberg. Nuremberg 2007, p. 64;

Schindler, Thomas: From the sausage bar to the sausage measure. Interpretations and meanings in tool science, in: KulturGut (24) 2010, pp. 10-12 (https://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/kulturgut/article/viewFile/18782/12593);

Bauriedel, Rüdiger: “Get the sausage measure” when slaughtering. Funny slaughterhouse custom with forgotten real background. In: Hummelgauer homeland messenger, Jg. 24, No. 91, March 2011, P. 2-8;

Schindler, Thomas: Tools of the Early Modern Period in the Germanic National Museum. Inventory catalog. Nuremberg 2013, p. 260, cat. No. 545;

Schindler, Thomas: Sausage bar of the type Einöhrbügel with degumming blade. In: Zünftig! Mysterious craft 1500-1800. Edited by Thomas Schindler, Anke Keller, Ralf Schürer. Exhibition cat. Germanic National Museum. Nuremberg 2013, p. 144, cat. No. 2.49.



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A few weeks ago, I got to spend two days hanging out with some of my favourite people, doing one of my favourite things – Viking Age reenactment. I spent most of my time working on my fishing net because I had a good place to hang it and work with my face to visitors. I calculated that it took me about half an hour to do a row, including time for chatting.This project had been going on for years, but it is finally starting to look decent. I reached a point last weekend that I could sit while working. I have learned a lot from a simple project that is basically just repetition of the same knot.

I have changed the knot so that it doesn’t slip. I have learned that sometimes a double loop on the knot is needed so that the net will be sturdier. Not being an actual fisher, it took me a while to figure out that my mesh actually has to be the right size to catch a particular fish. I have done work on the net now that I am comfortable working without a gauge to ensure each loop is the same size. I have gotten pretty good at working both from left to right and from right to left, so I don’t need to switch the net around or work in a place where I can have access to both sides of the net. My recollection of traditional nets is that they were often made or repaired while hung against something like a fence, so mastering this skill was important. Finally, I have timed myself making a single row, so I can now calculate how many hours of work will have gone into the net when it is complete. I still need to improve my repair skills, as there are lots of errors at the beginning where I messed up which previous loop I should have netted into, and then couldn’t figure out how to fix my mistake.

I spent time researching how nets were used during the Viking Age and before. The reality is that huge nets don’t make much sense because they are hard to haul into a boat. However, it appears the Vikings did do some netting from boats because remains of net, sinkers and floats exist. They also used weirs and probably netted in streams as well. My net would probably do quite nicely during salmon spawning season in the little stream that runs through l’Anse aux Meadows, right beside the original forge site.


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Tonight, I got to do one of my favourite things – I spent an hour with a bunch of youngsters, sharing my love of medieval things. It was at an overnight church camp on a medieval theme. My audience was to be mostly girls between the ages of 7 and 14, many from low-income families. I was doing the demo on my own.

My solution was to pack up my Viking age kit (a sea chest, a basket, a stool) with a variety of items to show everyday life of a Viking woman. Over the years, my demonstration kit has evolved to highlight my interest in cooking, carving, fishing, and textile arts. Coincidentally, this means that I have a variety of tools and items made from bone, antler, wood, horn, hair, leather, wool, linen, hemp, and a bit of silk. I have lots of plain things and a few colourful bits. Since I also have a big interest in reducing waste, and reminding kids of where our food comes from, this has become known as 100 things to do with a dead animal.

Back row – wooden cup, spindle with a soapstone whorl, onion-skin dyed wool on a wooden stool; hemp fishing net with a wooden shuttle; woven basket with spindles with pottery, soapstone, antler and (medieval) metal whorls, undyed white and black wool, wool dyed with madder, purple loosestrife, Queen Anne’s lace, woad-dyed silk, undyed linen, and a pair of wool combs; bone line winder with a hemp fishing line and metal hook.

Front row: hemp netted bag, soapstone oil lamp, bone pin, bone lucet with some madder-dyed wool luceted cord, two bone buckles (one on a leather belt, one on cloth), a raw bone so kids can see what I started with, horse and cows tails, goose feathers – some made into quill pens, naalbinding strainer made from horse and cow hair sitting in the wooden cup; wooden plate holding two horn sausage stuffers and a horn spoon, wooden bowl and wooden spoon.22DD0830-B468-4C78-A154-26AC9A5CFCFE

To complete the demonstration, I had a linen dress and underdress, naalbinding socks and leather shoes, a necklace with glass beads and a bone cross, linen cap with linen braid ties and trim, a whetstone, metal snips, my wooden-handled eating knife, my bone case for holding metal needles, my antler carving knife, my bone comb and case, a bone ear spoon, and my metal toiletry kit (tweezers, earspoon, toothpick and mysterious object).


To finish off the evening, the kids were each allowed to try writing with the quill pens – a messy but fun experiment. I really enjoyed all the questions and interest in touching the different items, and demonstrating spinning and how long it would take to make a single shirt. Kids are always fascinated by bone and horn especially, and how many different materials could be used for items that are made of plastic today.

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A little over a year ago, I spotted this object and I fell in love.

F578F886-5CC5-4A1E-A394-46D67FAEE60E You can read more about it here. T Shaped Antler Container.

I had to make one right away! So I challenged back into the Order of the White Wolf Fian, even though I didn’t need to challenge for almost two years. So here we are, a year later, and I am finally starting to work on it.

The first challenge was to find a piece of antler that would be a reasonable approximation of the original, which is 15 cm long. Eventually I found one that is a fair bit smaller to give the right proportions, but it will have to do. Today I sawed it to shape and now I am trying to clear the material from the core. This will be a challenge because the piece is too large for my little drill bits and I’m afraid to use a huge one in case I pierce the hard outer shell, or make it so thin that it cracks/punctures when I try to carve it. In addition, the smaller piece is not filed with the spongy core that is easy to remove, but rather hard antler that gums up the dril bit. So far, I have cleared some from each end, and I’ll keep twiddling away at it until I get brave enough to try a larger drill bit.


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You are being served a meal suitable for eating outdoors or indoors. The meal is inspired by my love for bratwurst on a bun, with mustard and optionally with sauerkraut, and by my love of huge pretzels dipped in mustard.


According to the On-line Etymology Dictionary, the word bratwurst comes from the old (12th C) High German word brato, which means lean meat, finely chopped calf or swine meat, and is related to the Proto-Germanic words bred-on- “roast flesh”. German folk etymology derives it from braten “to roast, bake, broil, grill,”[i] and the Bratwurst Museum does note that Thuringian bratwursts must be roasted or grilled, and that to fry it is a sin.[ii]

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.[iii] 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.[iv] The problem is, that neither the bill nor the legend give any clue to the recipe. The historian Michael Kirschlager claims 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 built near the salt house directly to the city wall.[v] In the 14th century the “Bratwurstglöcklein” (Glöcklein = little bell; named after a bell hanging from the wall of the chapel) was built 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.[vi]

From the Bratwurst Museum in Thuringia[vii], there is a similar timeline:

  1. 1134 Builders of the Regensburg Cathedral strengthen in close proximity in a snack hut (possibly with bratwurst )
  2. 1404 – Entry for the issue of 1 penny for intestines make to sausages in the provost’s account of the Arnstadt Virgin Monastery
  3. Early 14th century . Nuremberg Bratwurstglöcklein built on the outer wall of the Santander Moritzkapelle
  4. 1432 Fleischhauer order of the Weimar Fleischer ” something of a purity law for the roasting , liver and other sausages “
  5. 1470 (1370) in Esslingen dictates an order that only pure pork may be used for the production of sausages
  6. 1498 Coburg bratwurst is first mentioned in a bill of fare of George ‘s Hospital
  7. 1554 – . 1592 Hans Stromer IV ( 1517-1592 ) eats behind bars in Nuremberg debtors’ prison , nearly 28,000 sausages
  8. 1595 bratwurst recipe of the Nuremberg butchers’ guild
  9. 1600/1601 Konigsberg giant sausage measuring 1,005 yards ( 670 m)
  10. 02/07/1613 “S ( axes ) W ( eimarischen ) Product and order for butchers to Weimar , Jena and Buttstaedt ,” § 25 Bratwurst
  11. 1669 Johann Jacob Christoffel of Grimmelshausen praises the “adventurous Simplicius Simplicissimus” Thuringian bratwurst
  12. 1797 First printed recipe for Thuringian sausages in the ” Thuringian- Erfurtisches Cookbook

The discovery of the 1404 document sparked a debate about whose documentation for bratwurst was the oldest:[viii] “In the financial statements of the Customs writer of St. Goar dating back to 1410 is a boatload of sausages mentioned (Value: 1 Gulden), which was shipped together with wine in Cologne. This is the clearest and earliest evidence for sausage, except for a document just six years older from Thuringia – the purchase of intestines to make sausages”.

This document led to a bit of a dispute between Thuringians and Franks in July 2000[ix]: “The history of the sausage must probably be rewritten because the crispy grilled food is obviously older than thought. The sausage was mentioned in 1404 in Thuringia for the first time in a document, writes the “Thüringer Allgemeine” in its weekend edition. Previously, the oldest documents to mention sausage were from 1595 and 1613, attributed to the citizens of Nuremberg.

There is now a raging controversy between Thuringia and Franconia over the oldest sausage. “The Nuremberg Bratwurst has certainly been mentioned in 1300,” fought back the chairman of the Hotel and Restaurant Association for Middle Franconia, Werner Behringer, against this new disgrace. By 1313 in Nuremberg there was evidence of bratwurst in the mention of the bratwurst kitchen “to blue bell” near the Sebald Church, stressed Behringer. The oldest sausage kitchen in the world was definitely in Bavaria.”

A 1432 document that was recently discovered has also sparked a debate, but this time it was over who had the oldest purity laws: butchers or brewers. Craig Whitlock wrote in the Washington post in December 2007 about this[x]: “It’s the German version of the chicken-or-the-egg conundrum: Which was regulated first, beer or bratwurst? For centuries, brewers seemed to have history on their side. As evidence, they cited the world-renowned Reinheitsgebot, the Bavarian beer purity law of 1516, which stipulated barley, hops and water as the only permissible ingredients in the German national drink.

But thanks to Hubert Erzmann, a 75-year-old amateur historian, sausage lovers are crowing these days. Digging in the Weimar city archives, Erzmann unearthed a yellowed, handwritten parchment from 1432 that laid down the law regarding the production of Thuringian Rostbratwurst, perhaps the most popular variety of sausage in a country where wurst is worshiped as sacred grub.

The official document decreed that bratwurst from this corner of Thuringia, today a central German state, be made only from “pure, fresh” pork. Forbidden were beef, internal organs, parasites and anything rancid. Although the regulations might not sound revolutionary, wurst aficionados have described the bratwurst purity law as a holy find, almost as significant to German culture as a Gutenberg Bible.

As soon as I found it, I ran to the director of the archive and said, ‘Look! Look what I found!’ ” recalled Erzmann, who has haunted the archives for years in hopes of making such a discovery.

Food purity laws hold a revered place in the German soul. When the modern German nation was formed in 1871, Bavaria joined on condition that its beer purity rules be applied to the entire country. Even today, spoiled meat outbreaks are a national scandal and consumer protection is considered among the most important functions of government.

The medieval regulations in Germany were incredibly modern,” said Michael Kirchschlager, an author who writes about Thuringian culture. “When you think of the Middle Ages, you think the food wasn’t necessarily that safe. But the hygiene in many ways was better than today.”

A replica of the bratwurst purity law soon will be enshrined at the German Bratwurst Museum[xi] located 24 miles away in Holzhausen, a village whose main intersection is marked by a giant sausage-and-bun sculpture.”

bratwurst statue[xii]

Thuringian sausage makers had to use only the purest, unspoiled meat and were threatened with a fine of 24 pfennigs — a day’s wages — if they did not, according to a spokesman for the German Bratwurst Museum.[xiii]

There were and still are many different recipes for Bratwurst used in Germany, depending on the region or town you are in.

There are five varieties of bratwurst from Franconia (mostly in northern Bavaria, but culturally distinct), plus one each from Thuringia, northern Hessan and Swabia, plus over 40 kinds of bratwurst in Germany.[xiv] In terms of medieval bratwurst varieties, a Franconion region culinary website[xv] notes that most Upper Franconian sausages are relatively thick and of medium length (15-20 mm in diameter, about 20 – 25 cm length). In Coburg the Bratwurstmaß is traditionally exactly 31 cm. However, they are significantly thinner than, for example Bamberg medium-coarse Bratwurst.

The exact date of the first Coburger bratwurst is disputed but the oldest firm evidence comes from Coburg George Hospital from 1498. It said that every child (in the city?) and every Coburg (patient?) in the hospital were to receive two sausages from the last pigs slaughtered for Shrove Tuesday.[xvi]

In 1623 Duke Casimir issued a taxation ordinance that the Coburg sausage could cost only 4 1/2 cents and had to weigh a pound for four pieces together. So it is no surprise that the citizens wanted Coburg to have a very accurate measure of their sausages. They found it, presented by none other than the city’s patron St. Mauritius, the standing on the pediment of the Town Hall facade above the clock, holding up his baton as Bratwurstmaß so that Coburg butchers could ensure their sausages were sufficiently large. Coburg citizens fondly named him the “Bratwurst Männle”. 350 years later, in 1982 this measure was precisely determined: a real Coburg must be 31 cm long (unprocessed).[xvii]

Though some are made with only selected pork belly and lean pork, in some regions, veal or beef is added. Depending on the region, spices varied too: some have marjoram, others only pepper and cumin, or a touch of garlic and lemon. The consistency of the sausage filling also has special cultural and historical role. Coarse sausage was offered mainly in the Protestant regions of Upper Franconia; the medium-coarse to fine, on the other hand, came from the Catholic areas. For better bonding of the slightly crumbly sausage mass, some recipes add fresh eggs. The city of Coburg claims to have made sausages in the 15th century according to this recipe (ie including eggs) and it was served to Martin Luther and the Elector of Saxony in 1530 when they was staying in Coburg during the Augsburg Reichstag during the negotiation of the Augsburg Confession.[xviii]

I found two SCA-period recipes for Bratwurst

  1. recipe 25 in Das Kochbuch der Sabina Welserin[xix]

If you would make good bratwurst. Take four pounds of pork and four pounds of beef and chop it finely. After that mix with it two pounds of bacon and chop it together and pour approximately one quart of water on it. Also add salt and pepper thereto, however you like to eat it, or if you would like to have some good herbs, you could take some sage and some marjoram, then you have good bratwurst.

  1. Koge Bog, a Danish cookbook from 1616 (Martin Forest, translator)[xx]

XXU – To Make bratvurst. Take the meat off the shoulder and cut it into pieces. Pull the ligaments well off. Thereafter take a third part good tender beef and chop well small. Thereafter chop the two arts pork meat with the beef so that they are well mixed. Mix it well with salt, crushed pepper, half-crushed nutmeg flowers, marjoram, thyme and Danish cumin. The sausages should be made in the biggest pork intestines. When they are filled they should be put into clean water seething over the fire, and then quickly be taken out again and be hung overnight next to a warm oven to dry. And then be hung in the smoker in cold smoke. This way they are cured and can be eaten raw.

The recipe you are getting today is my own version of Thuringian rostbratwurst, for which a purity law dating back to 1432 has been found. It decreed that bratwurst in the city of Weimar be made only from “pure, fresh” pork. Forbidden were beef, internal organs, parasites and anything rancid. Thuringian sausages are the most popular in Germany, and are distinguished from the many other kinds of bratwurst by their distinctive spices: salt, pepper, marjoram, and other options such as mace, allspice, caraway, cardamom, garlic, or lemon rind.[xxi]

  1. Thuringian Rostbratwurst
  • 1 lb pork
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp mace
  • ¼ tsp marjoram

I ground the pork, then mixed in the other ingredients while keeping the pork as cold as possible. I then stuffed the mixture into pork sausage casings. They are best boiled fresh and then grilled.

Images of German sausages

Fridrich Plecher, 1467 [xxii]



Hans Lengenfelder, 1436[xxiii]



Hans Ensslinger, 1465[xxiv]




There are images of medieval pretzels, and even a few recipes for pretzels, but little archaeological evidence. However, in 2015, there was an announcement of actual 300 year-old pretzels.[xxv]

1190s Alsace:[xxvi]


Ulrich Galster, Baker, 1465[xxvii]

Ulrich Galster

Baker, from 15h C Chronicle of  Ulrico de Richtental[xxviii]


Hildesheim baptismal font cover, showing the anointing of Jesus. Pretzel is on the table in front of the figure on the right.[xxix]


1464 itinerant pastry bakers, from Konstanz.[xxx]

pastry bakers

A pie baker from Konstanz, 1465-1475[xxxi]

pie baker

Two Pretzel Recipes from Max Rumpolt’s Ein New Kuchbuch, 1581[xxxii]

  1. Nimb ein schöenes Mehl/ lauter Eyerdotter/ vnnd ein wenig Wein/ Zucker vnd Aniß/ mach ein Teig damit an/ walg jn fein läenglicht vnd rundt mit saubern Häenden/ vnnd mach kleine Bretzel darauß/ scheubs in ein warmen Ofen/ vnd backs/ daß du es nit verbrennest/ sondern fein außtrucknet/ so werden sie auch müerb vnd gut. Du magst auch Zimmet darvnter nemmen oder nicht. Vnd man nennet es Precedella …
  2. Take a fair flour/ clean egg yolks/ and a little wine/ sugar and anise/ make a dough with it/ roll it nicely long and round with clean hands/ and make little pretzels from it/ shove in a warm oven and bake/ that you do not burn it/ but until nicely dry/ like this they will be also crispy and good. You might also take cinnamon with it or not. And one calls them Precedella.[xxxiii]57. Nimb Zucker vnnd Rosenwasser/ laß wol auffsieden/ daß nicht zu dick wirt/ rüer geriebene Mandeln vnter den gesotten Zucker/ vnd machs wol trucken vom Feuwer/ vnd wenn du es wol weg nimpst/ so nimb schöenen weissen gestossenen Zucker ein Löeffel voll oder drey/ rüers wider vnter die Mandeln/ treib sie mit der Handt fein läenglicht auß/ vnnd besträew sie mit weissem Zucker vnten vnd oben/ daß nicht bleibt an Häenden kleben/ vnnd wenn du es lang hast außgetrieben/ so mach kleine Bretzel darauß/ scheub sie in ein warmen Ofen/ vnd back sie fein langsam auß/ so werden sie schöen weiß. Vnd man nennet es Precedella von Mandeln gemacht.

The second translation is from a different source[xxxiv]: PRECEDELLA MADE OF ALMONDS   (Rumpolt 1581, fol. 169b, #57)

[57]     Take sugar and rosewater, boil up [together], so that it becomes not too thick, stir grated almonds into this boiled sugar, take it from the fire when it is well dried. When you take it away, take one to three spoons of good white pounded sugar, stir it into the almonds, make this almond dough longish with your hands, strew white sugar onto it on the upper and the lower side, so that nothing sticks to your hands. And when you have made it longish, form small pretzels from it, put them into a warm oven and bake them quite slowly, they will get a fine white color.

Thomas Gloning, who has contributed many transcriptions and translations of medieval German cookbooks on-line, notes that “In the so called Richenthal chronicle about the Constance council, there is a picture of a kind of pastry in the form of a pretzel. In the Constance manuscript of this chronicle (fol. 23a, note: first of the two Konstanz baker images, above), there is a piece of text beneath the picture, where the pretzels in the picture are referred to with the expression “broetschellen”:

“Och waren brotbecken zuo Costentz, die hetten ringe und claine offenlin. Die furten sy uff stoskerlin durch die stat und buchend darin bastetten und ring und broetschellen und sollichs brottes. Dero warend etlich erf¸llet mit h¸nren, etlich mit vogeln, gewuortz, mit guotter spetzery, und etlich mit flaisch und etlich mit vischen gebachen, wie die ainer gern wolt haben” (23a; Feger II 173b).

“Broetschellen” is also used in the Aulendorf manuscript of this chronicle, from the 15th century too; however, the wording is slightly different:

“… darinn sy basteten, ring und broetschelen buochend. Die basteten waren ettlich mit h¸ner und flaisch gemacht …”. The difference is, that the filling is clearly mentioned in respect to the pies. Later on, there is another passage in the text, where these foreign bakers and their “basteten”, “ring” and “broetschelen” are mentioned again.

“In the printed version of this text from 1536, the word is “bretschelen”.

“Now, all these forms seem to belong to “Brezel”, whose predecessors can be traced back to Old High German; the German word is an early loan from Latin or/and Italian sources.[xxxv]

The word pretzel comes from the Latin “Brachiatellium”, which became “Brezitella” in Old German. The pretzel is popularly believed to have been developed in a southern French monastery in 610, and the shape symbolizes arms in prayer. Another version claims that the pretzel came from the monastery of St. Gall.

Pretzels dipped in caustic soda (lye) and water before baking (laugenbretzeln) may be a relatively new phenomenon, as I could only find documentation for this practice back to the early 1800s.[xxxvi] This is the kind of large soft pretzel most often found in this area, though a similar look may also be possible using baking soda in the dough, and brushing with egg yolk before baking.

The traditional belief is that until the eighteenth century pretzels were usually baked only “in tempore quadragesimali”, ie during the forty days before Easter, but that would make sense only for Lenten pretzels (those without eggs or milk). At least in Biberach an der Riß, a town in southern Germany around 200 km from Siglinde’s home in Metz, but probably also in other parts of South-West Germany, Fastrenbrezeln are very popular in the fasting period. They are boiled briefly in hot water before baking and salted only after boiling. On Palm Sunday, the Brezgenmarkt takes place in the Hungerbrunn Valley near Heldenfingen. This market has been documented since 1533 by the Ulmer Ratsprotokolle. In this region, the old custom of men giving pretzels to their sweethearts has been preserved.[xxxvii] Pretzels are also a very important part of Alsatian food culture,[xxxviii] and in Luxembourg.[xxxix]

I was unable to find a medieval recipe, so I looked at modern fastenbretzeln recipes:

Fasting Pretzel (makes 10 portions)[xl]


  • 350 ml of cold water
  • 3 decagrams yeast (about 5 tsp)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 60 decagrams flour (about 1 6/2 c)
  • 1 yolk
  • 2 tbsp of water
  • butter or shortening to grease the baking pan
  1. Mix the salt and water, then add the flour.
  2. Knead thoroughly for 10-15 minutes. Leave in a warm place, covered, 20 minutes.
  3. Knead the dough again and knead again for 5 minutes.
  4. Knead dough and form thin rolls of 25 cm length.
  5. Place each dough strand in a horseshoe shape so that the tips point towards the body.
  6. Lift the ends and twist to a knot and place the tips on the left and right of the pretzel.
  7. Place on a greased sheet and spread from a mixture of yolk and water.
  8. Bake at 220 degrees about 35 minutes. Tip: If the pretzel is placed in boiling water just before baking, a particularly soft “lye dough” is produced.


  • 500-700g wheat or spelt flour
  • 10 g of salt
  • 10 g of baking malt, also called barley or wheat malt flour (Baking malt is a malt which is mostly made from barley, wheat or rye. The grain is germinated under moist and warm conditions, then dried, dried or roasted and ground. By the addition of baking malt to the dough, easily available nutrients, including sugars and amino acids, are made available to the yeast. The aim is to speed up the fermentation and a better dough texture. Dried and roasted ale malt would be a suitable substitute)
  • 10 g yeast
  • 275 ml of water

Add the spelt flour, salt and baking malt in a bowl. Then add the water and knead to form a smooth, supple, medium paste. This takes about 8 – 10 minutes. Then let the dough rest for about 20 minutes. Now divide the dough into 45 g pieces and then process the pieces into pretzels. For this, roll out a strand with a length of approx. 50 cm from the dough piece. Make a circle with the dough and twist the ends to form a pretzel shape. Sprinkle the finished pretzel with water (ie dip in boiling water) and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 210 degrees about 20 minutes.

I decided to go with a variation of A Pretzel Recipe from a Baker in Metz.[xlii]

Flour, baker’s yeast, fine salt, water – a little less than for bread – and 3 to 4 minutes of kneading.

The dough is then divided, the portions of 60 grams stretched and formed into a soft tube, and then into a pretzel shape. The raw forms are then slightly poached in hot water, with salt and onion peel. This makes it possible to obtain this beautiful color between gold and brown which characterizes the pretzel after cooking. After being sprinkled with coarse salt, the pretzels are cooked for about 5 minutes, at 230 ° C, though the timing varies depending on humidity. This seemed too short, so I baked until done. Some recipes I read called for a bit of water in a pan in the oven, a trick I use when making baguettes in order to mimic the humidity of a wood-fired oven, so I did that to add a little more humidity to my pretzels. I used sourdough rather than dried commercial yeast. This is appropriate because dried yeast is a modern invention, and sourdough works just fine, especially when used daily for baking; pretzels are baked fresh each day (the little dried pretzels are a modern, North American invention). I didn’t have ale barm or leftover malt to add, though that might have helped. Instead, I added a smidgen of honey to boost the sourdough fermentation and give a tiny touch of the sweetness that was common in many of the recipes I looked at. The fasting pretzels were often described as being paler than the lye pretzels, so I did some in plain water, others in water with a bit of salt and onion peel for colour, and a few in lye water. Though I have no evidence that either the onion tinted bath or the lye bath were period methods, the ingredients would have been available to medieval bakers, and the documented popularity of lye pretzels by the 1830s leads me to suspect that some sort of process might have been used to produce the rich brown colour of lye pretzels.


Sauerkraut is another item that, like bread and sausages, everyone eats and knows how to cook, so there are relatively few references. My main source was Regional Cuisines of Medieval Europe, which notes that Das Buch von Guter Spise recipe 48 includes sauerkraut:

“|A48] Ein condimentlin. 1 2 1 Mal kfimel vnd enis mit pfeffer vnd mit ezzige vnd mit honige vnd mach ez gel mit saffran vnd tfl dar zv senf in disem condimente mahtu salze petersielien bem. vnd dein cumpost oder rfiben waz du wilt.

“[B48] Ein condimente / Mal kümel / vnd enys mit pfeffer / vnd mit essige vnd mit honige / vnd machs gel mit saffran / vnd thu darzcu senff In disem condimente machtu sulcze petersilien Piren vnd dein kumpost oder ruben was du wilt.

“48. A little sauce. Grind caraway and anise with pepper, vinegar, and honey, color it yellow with saffron, and add mustard. In this sauce you can prepare jellied meat with parsley berries 2 3 and some sauerkraut or turnips, anything you want.”[xliii]

She also notes that in the 1460 cookbook written by von Maister Hans or Meister Hans (facsimile is titled Maister Hannsen des von Wirtenburg koch) there is a mention made of cabbage seeds being saved from cabbage worms, and that Meister Hans wrote “I secretly noticed that you like to eat sauerkraut, while by nature I prefer gruel.”[xliv]

Lastly Adamson mentions that the 1485 Kuchenmeysterey contains some material in the sauces section. “The focus in chapter 4 is on sauces, especially garlic sauces, mustard, electuaries, cabbage, and sauerkraut.”[xlv]

Stefan’s Florilegium offers two recipes that call for sauerkraut from the miscellaneous prepared dishes section of Marx Rumpolts’ Ein New Kochbook (1581):

“111. Saur Kraut mit einer gesottenen hennen/unnd gerauchteren Speck/ist auch nicht boss zu essen.

Sauerkraut with a boiled hen and smoked bacon is also not bad to eat.

  1. Gehackt saures Kraut ist auch nicht boss/wenns gesotten ist/ so macht mans ab mit saurem Raum und Butter.
  2. Chopped sauerkraut is not bad when it is boiled, so one prepares it with sour cream and butter.”[xlvi]

Stefan’s Florilegium offers more sauerkraut recipes and menu items from Rumpolt:

“Swchweine Wildpret gekocht im Pfeffer auff Vngerisch/ Ein saur kraut gekocht mit einem gerucherten Speck/ vnd durren Wursten/ vnd auch mit gerucherten Capaunen vnd Huner.

Wild boar cooked in a Pepper sauce in the Hungarian manner/ a sauerkraut cooked with smoked bacon and dried sausage/ and also with smoked capons and hens.

Ein saur Kraut gekocht/ vnd mit geruchtem Speck vnnd Bratwursten vmblegt.

A sauerkraut cooked/ and with smoked bacon and bratwurst laid around.

Ein saur Kraut mit durren Lachs gesotten/ vnnd Backfisch/ vnd Bratfisch auff das Kraut/ alles in ein Schussel angericht.

A sauerkraut cooked with dried salmon/ and backfish/ and fried fish on the kraut/ all arranged in a dish.

Warme Erbes mit saurem Kraut.

Warm peas with sauerkraut.

Hammel 22. Karwenada von dem Hammel zu kochen. Nimm aus der Seiten die Rib von dem Hammel / und haw die Brust davon hinweg / und brauchs worzu du es haben wilt / es sei zu grunem oder saurem Kraut / Nimm die Riben / schneidt eine nach der andern heraus / sampt dem Fleisch / zerklopf ein segliche Rib besonder mit einer Weidorarenruck / und wenn du es wilt braten / so besprengs auf beiden seiten mit Salz / legs auf ein Rust / und brats geschwindt hinweg / begeus mit heissen Speck / oder nimm lautere Butter. Und wenn du es wilt anrichten / so nimm ein braune saure Bruhe / die wohl gepfeffert ist / gies oben daruber / das es warm auf ein Tisch kompt / Denn wenn es kalt ist / so wolt ich nicht ein Pfennig drumb geben / Und ein sollche Speise muss man machen / wenn ein Herr be idem Tisch ist. Und wenns einer gern mit Knoblaunch ist gut und lieblich. Solche Speise kanstu braten oder sieden / oder auch wohl eindumpfen / denn man hat nicht allzeit drei oder viererlei Fleisch.

  1. To cook carbonados of the mutton.  Take from the side of the ribs of a mutton/ and cut the breast away from it/ and need what for you will have it/ be it green cabbage or sauerkraut/ Take the ribs/ slice one from the other/ together with the meat/ beat such a rib especially with a Weidorarenruck/ and when you will roast it/then sprinkle on both sides with salt/ lay on a grill/ and roast swiftly away/ baste with hot bacon/ or take clean butter.  And when you will serve/ then take a brown sour stock/ that is well peppered/ pour over the top/ that it comes to the table warm/ because if it is cold/ then I will not give a penny for it/ And such a dish one has to make/ when a Lord is at the table. And when you would like it with garlic it is good and lovely.  Such dishes you can roast or boil/ or also well steam/ because one has not always three or four meats.

Spensaw 23. Gersuchert oder Geselcht Spensaw ist auch nicht bus/ magst sie kalt oder warm geben/ sie ist auf beide manier gut/ Oder kochs unter grunem Kol/ mit saurem Kraut/ oder mit Spenat/ oder Bisenkraut/ welches man sonst Romischen Kol nennet.

  1. Smoked or salted pig is not also bad/ serve it cold or warm/ It is good in both manners or cook under green cabbage/ with sauerkraut or with spinach/or Bisenkraut which one otherwise calls Roman cabbage.

Fasan 22.  Nimein gerucherten Fasan/ vnd guten Speck/ der unterwachsen ist/ auch ein guten Kappaunen/ der nicht geruchert ist/ Nimden Speck/ vn schneidt jn gar klein/ setz jn zu mit saurem Kraut/ vnd lass wol darmit sieden/ rur es wol mit einem holtzern Loffel/ Wenn das Kraut wol gesotten ist/ so thu den Fasanen darein/ vnd den Kappaun/ lass auch siedenm mit dem Kraut/ rur es durcheinander mit einem holtzern Loffel/ so ist es ein gutes essen. Vnd ich habe es offte gekocht vor grosse Herrn/ sonderlich vor die Herrn von Osterreich.

Take a smoked pheasant/ and good bacon/ that is unterwachsen/ also a good capon that is not smoked/ Take the bacon and cut it very small/ set it to the fire with sauerkraut/ and it let it simmer together well/ stir it well with a wooden spoon/ When the kraut is well cooked/ then put the pheasant in it/ and the capon/ let also cook with the kraut/ stir it together with a wooden spoon/ like this it is a good food.  And I have often cooked for great lords, especially the lords of Austria.[xlvii]

Another interesting recipe for comes from Ein Kochbuch aus dem Archiv des Deutschen Ordens:

“[[31]] Wilthu machenn eynngemacht Crautt:
so seudt weysse Heuptt und ein zweythell Sennffs und das dritthell Hoengs und die selbing mach undereinander mitt Wein und thu darein <<124>>
Koemel und einß des genug und leg dan des gesotten Kraut darein und [[nnd_Ed.]] gibe es kalt. also magst auch priesen die Seudt mitt Würczenn und gyb sy hin.”[xlviii]

If you want to make pickled cabbage

Boil white cabbage heads, take two parts mustard and one part honey, mix them with wine and add caraway. /einfl/ (?) it enough, put the boiled cabbage into it and serve it cold. You can also season the broth and serve it.”[xlix]

This recipe is from outside of Germany, but it is geographically close enough that it’s worth including: Mikolaj Reg in “Zywot czlowieka pozciwego” (1568) describes a sauerkraut method: “Having removed the outside leaves of some nice heads of cabbage, cut them in half and fit them neatly into a vat, spreading beet chards & dill between the layers”[l]

I used a simple sauerkraut recipe from Stocking Up. I chopped enough white cabbage to fill a quart canning jar and stuffed it in as tightly as possible to within 1 inch of the top after sterilizing the jar and lid pieces. I then added 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, ½ teaspoon of honey (from my sister’s hives), and a few caraway seeds. Next, I poured in boiling water to within ½ inch of the top, and inserted a knife to release any air bubbles. I sealed the lid and put the jar in a basin in my basement to ferment.


I had been hoping to find a hot mustard like my beloved feuer senf, but most of the medieval German recipes I could find were actually more like a mild honey mustard. There are mustard recipes in cookbooks from other cuisines (Old Icelandic Miscelleny, Viandier of Taillevent, Libre de Sent Sovi, Menagier de Paris, Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook, Nola’s Libro de Coch, and Hugh Plat’s Delights for Ladies) but I have chosen to stick with a German recipe and one from the Netherlands.

As noted above in the section on sauerkraut, Ein Buch von Guter Spise, has a mustard condiment at recipe 48.

Hans Hajack did an interpretation that produced far more mustard than I needed. However, it was a good basis, so I reduced the quantities while keeping the proportions approximately the same.

1 pound yellow mustard seed 2 tsp. ground anise
2 cups apple cider vinegar 2 tsp. ground caraway
2 cups water 25 threads of saffron
2 tsp. ground black pepper 5 ounces honey

Soak mustard seed in vinegar & water for 12-24 hours. Process in blender or food processor with remaining ingredients.[li] I used a mortar and pestle rather than a blender or food processor to grind my ingredients.

I found two excellent documents prepared by other SCA researchers: the first is A Study of Medieval Mustard as Sauce & Seed by Baroness Hanna Schreiber[lii]; and the second is Medieval Mustard, by Baron Caleb Reynolds[liii]

For my second mustard, I used a recipe from the Dutch Eenen Nyeuwen Coock Boeck (1560), which is found in Schreiber’s document:

“Om drooghen mostaerd te maken.opt Rooms Droocht nieuwe mostaertsaet in die heete sonne oft oven oft bijden viere, ende stoot dat in eenen vijsere tot cleynnen mele, ende maeckt hier af een deech met stercken azijn ende een cleyn luttel greynpoeders ende laet dan dat tot eenen stuck ligghen drooghen.

(Translation) To make dry mustard in the Roman way. Dry new mustard seed in the hot sun or in the oven or at the fire, and crush it in a mortar to fine flour and make a dough with this and with strong vinegar and a little grain powder and let dry to one piece.”[liv]

A different recipe for mustard sauce translates greyn poeders as grains of paradise.[lv]

I used white mustard seed that I had purchased dried, then crushed it in a mortar, added white vinegar and a little ground grains of paradise, then let it absorb the vinegar for several days.

[i] http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=bratwurst

[ii] http://www.bratwurstmuseum.net

[iii] Čerpnjak Dorothea: Kleine Kulturgeschichte der Bratwurst. Eine Lieblingsspeise erobert die Welt. Leipzig 2005. (Cultural History of the Bratwurst. A favoured Dish conquers the World), p. 28.

[iv] Čerpnjak, p. 29.

[v] Čerpnjak, p. 30-31; Dünnebier, Anna/ Paczensky, Gert von: Kulturgeschichte des Essens und Trinkens. München 1999. (Cultural History of Food and Drink), p. 126

[vi] Čerpnjak, p. 30-31

[vii] http://www.bratwurstmuseum.de/geschichte.html

[viii] http://www.graf-von-katzenelnbogen.de/bratwurst.html

[ix] http://www.tagesspiegel.de/weltspiegel/geschichte-der-bratwurst-neue-historische-quelle-ruft-streit-zwischen-thueringern-und-franken-hervor/153812.htm

[x] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/01/AR2007120101513.html

[xi] http://www.bratwurstmuseum.net

[xii] http://gruppenreise-navi.com/suche/region/thueringen-thueringer-wald-saaleland-vogtland-rhoen/9183-es-geht-um-die-wurst

[xiii] http://www.kitchenproject.com/german/Bratwurst/history.htm

[xiv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bratwurst

[xv] http://genussregion-oberfranken.de/spezialitaeten/staedte/122/oberes_maintal__coburger_land/335/coburger_bratwurst/details_38.htm

[xvi] https://www.fleischtheke.info/wurstsorten/rohwuerste/coburger-bratwurst.php

[xvii] http://www.genussregion.oberfranken.de/spezialitaeten/staedte/53/coburg/335/coburger_bratwurst/details_38.htm

[xviii] http://www.genussregion.oberfranken.de/spezialitaeten/staedte/53/coburg/335/coburger_bratwurst/details_38.htm

[xix] http://www.daviddfriedman.com/Medieval/Cookbooks/Sabrina_Welserin.html

[xx] http://medievalcookery.com/greneboke/recipes/bratvurst.html

[xxi] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/01/AR2007120101513.html

[xxii] http://www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de/75-Amb-2-317-85-v

[xxiii] http://www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de/75-Amb-2-317-59-v/data

[xxiv] http://www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de/75-Amb-2-317-83-v/data

[xxv] http://nypost.com/2015/03/12/archaeologists-unearth-300-year-old-pretzels-in-germany/

[xxvi] https://en.wikipedia.org/File:Hortus_Deliciaarum_1190.jpg

[xxvii] http://www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de/75-Amb-2-317-84-r

[xxviii] https://www.superstock.com/stock-photos-images/4069-3995

[xxix] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baptismal_font_%28Hildesheim%29

[xxx]https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Konstanzer_Richental_Chroni_Pastetenbaecker.jpeg, Feger, Otto (Bearb.): Ulrich Richental: Das Konzil zu Konstanz. Faksimile. Starnberg – Konstanz 1964, Fol. 23r.

[xxxi] Konzil von Konstanz (ÖNB 3044, fol. 48v), c. 1465-1475, http://www.larsdatter.com/pretzels.htm

[xxxii] http://www.larsdatter.com/pretzels.htm

[xxxiii] http://cunnan.lochac.sca.org/index.php/Precedella

[xxxiv] Email from Thomas Gloning dated 2 August 2000, http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-BREADS/pretzels-msg.html

[xxxv] Email from Thomas Gloning, August 1, 2000, http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-BREADS/pretzels-msg.html

[xxxvi] http://www.germanfoodguide.com/pretzel.cfm

[xxxvii] http://www.brezel-baecker.de/brezelgeschichte

[xxxviii] https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bretzel

[xxxix] http://www.luxembourg.public.lu/fr/actualites/2012/03/18-bretzel/index.html

[xl] https://www.thea.at/rezepte/die-fastenbrezel/20151

[xli] http://www.backenmitchristina.at/lungauer-fastenbrezen/

[xlii] http://www.republicain-lorrain.fr/edition-de-metz-ville/2015/12/18/metz-le-bretzel-doit-se-manger-le-jour-meme

[xliii] Melitta Weiss Adamson. Das Buch von Guter Spise (The Book of Good Food) A Study, Edition, and English Translation of the Oldest German Cookbook. Medium Aevum Quotidianum, Krems: 2000, pp 77 and 102.

[xliv] Melitta Weiss Adamson. Regional Cuisines of Medieval Europe. Routledge, New York: 2002, p. 176.

[xlv] Regional Cuisines, p. 183.

[xlvi] Email from October 10, 1998, http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-VEGETABLES/sauerkraut-msg.html

[xlvii] Email from 11 January 2009, http://www.florilegium.org/?http%3A//www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD-VEGETABLES/sauerkraut-msg.html

[xlviii] http://www.staff.uni-giessen.de/gloning/tx/gollub.htm

[xlix] https://eldrimner.wordpress.com/2011/08/22/cabbage-from-the-teutonic-knights/

[l] http://www.gallowglass.org/jadwiga/SCA/cooking/preserving.html

[li] http://www.medievalcuisine.com/Euriol/recipe-index/condimente

[lii] A Study of Medieval Mustard as Sauce & Seed. http://germanrenaissance.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Mustard-Seed-AS-Sp-2012.pdf

[liii] http://calebreynolds.blogspot.ca/2015/07/

[liv] Medieval Mustard as Sauce & Seed, Appendix C.

[lv] http://medievalcookery.com/recipes/mustardsaucen.html

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The day before yesterday, I couldn’t find my Dublin cap to wear to Coronation. Or the other Dublin cap, or the other one, or the other one. So yesterday, I whipped up a new cap, and made braid ties and a bit of trim for the front using the braid from the Skjoldehamn tunic. This is a very simple braid in three colours, that works best as a fingerloop. I have made it before, to disguise seams where I have added length to the sleeves of undertunics, but somehow forgot to post about it. This is an excellent summary of the find, and pictures of the artifact along with the braid instructions can be found on page 7: https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/11552101/skjoldehamn-find-pennsic-expo-conv-svcscom.

I love this picture of me making the braid because, if you look closely, you can see my hands are a blur. Also, my helpful friend Evan is being helpful – he was clearly well-trained by his lady-wife (a mad knitter), as I asked if he could do me a favour and he immediately held up a hand for me to tie string around. The other picture shows the completed cap and the sleeves of my tunic. I’m feeling very rich, with six colours!



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I am currently reading a book called “The Underground Girls of Kabul”, which is about the phenomenon of young (and sometimes older) girls dressing and acting as boys or men. The author postulates that this practice may date back to the Sassanid Empire, when Afghanistan, along with several other countries where this phenomenon appears, was Zoroastrian. She mentions that Zoroastrians believed the body was made up of four elements (earth, air, fire, water). Hello! That sounds like humoral theory.

I went off on a bit of a search and found this:  “There is even evidence that Persian-Zoroastrian traditions, which regarded the human body as reflections of earthly elements, might have played a formative role in the Humoral theory (Elgood, 1934, p. 9) (http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/humoralism-1).  This article also mentions the important role of Avicenna, the Uzbek Persian physician who refined early humoral theory in his 11th C Canon on Medicine. Avicenna is also said to have been the first to have written down a recipe for plov osh (Uzbek mutton pilaf). Back to that pilaf rabbit hole, which I had been researching a few weeks ago.

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