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Unesco World Heritage Site

Maulbronn Monastery

Title page of Bernhard Buchinger's cookbook from 1700. Image: Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden
CONDITIONAL COMPLIANCE

BERNHARD BUCHINGER'S

COOKBOOK

Former head chef and Cistercian monk from the Alsace, Bernhard Buchinger knew how best to prepare food. He compiled a cookbook that is indicative of the baroque love of fine dining and pleasures of the palate. In 1642, Buchinger was elected abbot of Maulbronn Monastery.

Portrait of Bernhard Buchinger, credit unknown. Image: Biographia Cisterciensis

Bernhard Buchinger, Abbot of Maulbronn.

THE ABBOT FROM ALSACE

Bernhard Buchinger (1606–1673) studied theology and philosophy in the French Lützel Abbey. After his ordination, he took on other roles, such as abbey secretary and head chef. During the Thirty Years' War, he left the Cistercians in Lützel and was elected abbot of Maulbronn Monastery in 1642. Just six years later, Maulbronn was secularized again. In 1654, Buchinger returned to Lützel and oversaw the reconstruction of the abbey, which had been ravaged during the war. He compiled a cookbook that even contained meat dishes, despite the order's strict rules.

Miniature of fishing monks, circa 1200, illustration: Stift Heiligenkreuz im Wienerwald

Fishing and fish farming were important parts of monastic life.

A COMPREHENSIVE COOKBOOK

In addition to poultry, meat and eggs, Bernhard Buchinger's "Cookbook for religious and secular households, both large and small..." also contains many fish recipes, including recipes for carp, salmon, eel, and many other types of fish. Expensive ingredients and spices are often listed, which one would expect to see more in an affluent secular kitchen. The cookbook also includes tips on how to preserve fish by smoking or salting. The monks of Maulbronn may have prepared fish the same way Buchinger did.

Lake near Maulbronn Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Günther Bayerl

Numerous lakes and ponds facilitated fish farming in Maulbronn.

FISH AS "RIVER FRUIT"

Fish was considered "river fruit" and as such did not fall under the Cistercians' strict meat ban. During Lent, the demand for fish was particularly high. Maulbronn Monastery met this demand with sophisticated fish farming, evidenced by the variety of ponds. The largest pond at Maulbronn remains today: the Aalkistensee (eel trap lake), in which the monks raised up to 5,000 carp.

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