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

Huette von Ahrens ahrenshav at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 4 23:17:37 PDT 2009

Hi Bear and everyone!

I went back into the old messages that I have collected over the years and found this message from you 


Monday, November 15, 2004 10:54 AM

The inference that Erdäpfel is a potato based on modern usage may be
completely wrong.  Thomas Gloning was kind enough to point Gwen-Cat and I to
some work done by German linguists which suggest that in the 16th Century
Erdäpfel was equivalent to the Italian pepomeloni which was a squash by the
linguists reckoning.

The Rumpolt text Gwen-Cat is translating is from 1581.  England received its
first white potatoes in 1586 (although these may have been Apios americana
rather that Solanum tuberosum).  Carolus Clusius, who is responsible for
spreading specimens across northern Europe, received his first specimen in
1587.  Spain and Italy had specimens earlier, but there is no evidence of
widespread use.  They were apparently botanical curiosities.  They do not
appear in Leonard Fuch's Herbal of 1543 and there is no mention of them in
Europe prior to 1573.  The timing is such that the probablility of Rumpolt's
Erdäpfel being a white potato is low.

The first recipes for Kartoffel appear in the last decade of the 16th
Century and the beginning of the 17th Century.  It is worth noting that the
white potato which came into common use isn't the High Andean white potato
which originally came to Europe, but a Chilean variety better suited to
planting in temperate climates apparently first imported to Europe in the
late 18th Century.

The idea of the sweet potato being the Erdäpfel is interesting, but I don't
think it fits.  The original sweet potatoes were brought back by Columbus on
the first voyage.  They were adopted by the Spanish and the Portuguese early
on and the sweet potato became known in Europe as the common or Spanish
potato.  The Portuguese introduced them into Africa as food for the slave
trade and may have introduced them into Asia.  The probably made their way
into England between 1509 and 1533 while Henry VIII was married to Catherine
of Aragon, although some authorities credit the introduction to John Hawkins
raids on the Portuguese in 1562.

The spread of the sweet potato into France and Italy is probably due to
various parts of those countries being directly controlled by the Hapsburgs
and their relationship with other ruling families (thinking of HRE Charles
V).  It may be that the sweet potato was introduced into Austria and the
Germanic States by the same route.  Linguistically, the German for sweet
potato is "die Batate" and as some form of batata or patata is common for
referencing sweet potatoes, it is unlikely they would be referred to as
Erdäpfel.  Also there is not much evidence of sweet potatoes being used in
Central Europe.

One should also consider that while neither white potatoes nor sweet
potatoes appear in Fuchs, maize, capsicum peppers and New World squash do,
which suggests that the latter may have been introduced into the German
States (probably through the Turkish incursion into Hungary) before mid-16th
Century.  If so, the window of introduction for sweet potatoes for Rumpolt
is reduced to less than forty years.  Not impossible, but questionable.
Unfortunately, Fuchs doesn't provide us with an Erdäpfel either.


--- On Sun, 10/4/09, Terry Decker <t.d.decker at att.net> wrote:

> From: Terry Decker <t.d.decker at att.net>
> Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Weckerin recipe for 'Erdäpfel' (non-existent so far)
> To: "Cooks within the SCA" <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>
> Date: Sunday, October 4, 2009, 10:26 PM
> 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.
> Bear
> >>> 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.)
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