Soupmaster Fritz

Staff meals at Deux Cheminées seethe with undeniable Germanic undercurrents. Even Blank’s seafood rendition of Philadelphia pepperpot – with turtle, shrimp, oysters and pumpkin – succumbs to spätzle, small dumplings scraped into the simmering pot. Blank’s love of soups and einlagen -- their accompaniments of noodles, dumplings, Reibele (grated dough) and meaty, ravioli-like Maultaschen -- is stoked by some twelve dozen German and Austrian cookbooks.


The Austrian Joy of Cooking

Prato’s book helped Blank settle a dispute with Chef Louis Szathmary about a dinner honoring Ludwig van Beethoven. At issue was whether the small squares of a thin, baked soufflé floated in broth and known as Schöberln were eaten during Beethoven’s lifetime (1770-1827). The 1719 Neues saltzburgisches Koch-Buch does not mention them, but Prato gives recipes. In the end, the chefs included Schöberln. They assumed that lack of a recipe does not confirm absence of use, that food traditions before the modern era were slow to change and that recipes in common use were not included in cookbooks until years after their introduction.


Praktische Konditorei-Kunst was a popular early twentieth-century guide for pastry students and chefs who supplied baked goods to Konditorei, those tearooms and cafés specializing in pastry arts. The importance of this sixth edition lies in its nearly complete set of cake decoration templates and perforated parchment guides, the original supplements that rarely withstood decades of use in professional kitchens.


Tidy, indexed, and complete, the German manuscript, at right, from 1910 is also barely legible. It is unusual among handwritten cookbooks in that its pages are filled, cover to cover, by the same hand. More often, these household cookbooks falter at some point, leaving large sections completely blank. Translators are welcome to study it by appointment in the chef’s library.


It is not surprising that Blank, a card-carrying member of the Spam Fan Club, has an affinity for charcuterie, whether as sausages, pates, terrines, cold cuts or other, more esoteric, preparations.




Lösslerin, Charlotte.
Neuestes Kochbuch für Haushaltungen aller Stände.

Reutlingen: Enkin und Laiblin, c. 1870.

The Neuestes Kochbuch’s battery of homey soups – crab, chocolate, beer, liver, cherry, snail and wine soups – calls for broad bowls, big spoons and courageous appetites.

Prato, Katherina.
Die Süddeutsche Küche.

Graz: Styria, 1898.

Weber, J. M. Erich.
Praktische Konditorei-Kunst:
Das Große Konditoren-Fachwerk der Welt.

Dresden: J.M. Erich Weber, 1923.

Weber, J. M. Erich.
Praktische Konditorei-Kunst:
Das Große Konditoren-Fachwerk der Welt.

Dresden: J.M. Erich Weber, 1923.


Walter, Elise.

Holograph. Frankethal, 1910.

(above and right)

Ashauer, August.
Das deutsche Wurst – und Fleischerhandwerk.
Munich: Verlag Ernst Reinhardt, 1951.

Hornig, Alfred.
Recipe for Pfeffernüsse.

Holograph. 1892.

Home | Exhibit Introduction | A Chef and His Library | Someone's in the Kitchen with Fritz | Standing in the Stockpots of Giants

Great Composers | Victus Populi | A Fine Mess | My Dear Heinrich | Cattail City | May I Take Your Menu? | Guten Appetit

Acknowledgements | Fritz Blank Biography

© 2002 University of Pennyslvanian Library Trustees