[Sca-cooks] Weckerin recipe for 'Erdäpfel' (non-existent so far)

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Sun Oct 4 22:26:36 PDT 2009

The term "Erdapfel" was used to refer to the Martin Behaim terrestial globe 
of 1492, thus the term predates Columbus's return to Spain in 1493 and 
definitely occurs before the appearance of S. tuberosum in Europe.  So 
equating Erdapfel with potato is a transition in usage rather than the 
creation of a new term.

The Collins German-English Dictionary places the usage of Erdapfel for 
potato as being a regional usage in Austria and South Germany.  Other 
sources place it as being Austrian usage.  According to a webbed entry from 
the Encyclopedia of Austria, Carolus Clusius received his potato samples in 
Vienna in 1588 and the first potatoes farmed in Austria were at the 
monestary of Seitenstetten in 1620, which gives something of a time frame 
for potatoes in Austria ( 
http://www.aeiou.at/aeiou.encyclop.e/e712473.htm;internal&action=_setlanguage.action?LANGUAGE=en ) 
.  The problems I find with the entry are that by his own statement Clusius 
received the samples in 1587 (IIRC), he had been dismissed from the Imperial 
botanical garden in Vienna in 1577 by Rudolf II, who had the gardens razed 
and, if the timeline I've worked out is correct, he was probably in 
Frankfurt at the time.

An entry in Zeitschrift fur deutsche Wortfurschung Vol. 3 ( 
http://books.google.com/books?id=Q9wRAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA285&lpg=PA285&dq=erdapfel+pepone&source=bl&ots=SS18AOtd4f&sig=c4Ux5IKV9BJpFpCieUuudIztdaE&hl=en&ei=AnzJSp_LFonSlAeO6JmSAw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#v=onepage&q=erdapfel%20pepone&f=false ) 
provide some interesting connections between the term in various spellings 
and various cucubits.

Gerard received his potato samples in 1586.  Clusius received his in 1587. 
Botanical descriptions and information about S. tuberosum only start 
appearing in the last decade of the 16th Century.  This suggests that 
potatoes were little known in Northern and Central Europe prior to the end 
of the the 16th Century.  Given the 1581 publication date, Rumpolt predates 
the appearance of botanical samples in the region.  I think it is unlikely 
Rumpolt's Erdapfel is a potato, although that can't be ruled out without 
more evidence.

In the case of Weckerin, the general idea that there is a potato recipe in 
the cookbook apparently comes from a statement by Esther B. Aresty in her 
book The Delectable Past that, "A recipe in it bore a close resemblance to 
Rosti."  She then gives a modern recipe for Rosti.  Note that Aresty doesn't 
state that the recipe is a potato dish (although it is implied), doesn't 
offer the original recipe, and doesn't use the term Erdapfel.  I've been 
chasing this chimera for a number of years and with the webbed copy of 
Weckerin, I hope to find a resolution.


>>> http://www.theoldfoodie.com/2006/07/feasting-with-hemingway.html
> Thanks, first, for pointing to this wonderful site!
> << For a long time “earth apples” were
> assumed to be potatoes. Food historians are now unsure, and some feel
> that they were a type of squash. >>
> As far as I have followed the discussion, there is evidence (more than 
> "some feel") that in 16th century German the term "erdapfel" does not 
> refer to potatoes. Therefore, the Rumpolt passage cannot be claimed to be 
> the first potatoe recipe.
> As for Anna Wecker: for the time being, nobody has pointed to a recipe in 
> the book of Anna Wecker that might serve as a foundation for a serious 
> discussion whether or not there is a potato recipe in the cookbook of Anna 
> Wecker.
> Again: the Wecker cookbook is online at:
> http://www.digital-collections.de/index.html?c=autoren_index&l=en&ab=Wecker%2C+Anna
> E.
> (trying to make his way through the 16th century German of Anna Wecker.)

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list