Dec 022016
 

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Leipzig University (Universität Leipzig)was founded on this date in 1409 by Frederick I, Elector of Saxony and his brother William II, Margrave of Meissen. Since its inception, the university has engaged in teaching and research for over 600 years without interruption (although there were a few glitches at the end of WWII because the buildings were all bombed). Famous alumni include Leibniz, Goethe, Ranke, Nietzsche, and Wagner. The university was modeled on the University of Prague, from which the German-speaking faculty members withdrew to Leipzig after the Jan Hus crisis and the Decree of Kutná Hora — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decree_of_Kutn%C3%A1_Hora . The Alma mater Lipsiensis opened in 1409, after it had been officially endorsed by Pope Alexander V in his Bull of Acknowledgment on (September 9 of that year). Its first rector was Johann von Münsterberg. From its foundation, the Paulinerkirche served as the university church. After the Reformation, the church and the monastery buildings were donated to the university in 1544.

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Like many European universities of the time, the university of Leipzig was originally structured into colleges (Collegia) responsible for accommodation of students (and some lecturers), and collegiate teaching. Among the colleges of Leipzig were the Small College, the Large College, the Red College (also known as the New College), the College of our Lady and, the Pauliner-College. The college structure was eventually abandoned and today only the names survive.

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During the first centuries, the university grew slowly and was a rather regional institution. Today, following major expansion in the 19th century, many aspects of the history of the University can only be found in its Art Collection. Practically no trace is left of the early university’s original buildings, as they were continually being rebuilt in more modern styles and on a grander scale. The oldest college buildings were located in the south-western part of the medieval city, between the Schlossgasse and the Petersstraße, where the city council had allocated buildings for the use of graduates even before the official founding of the university. Later expanded to the “Kleines Fürstenkolleg”, these buildings housed the Faculty of Law from 1508 onwards (first called the “Petrinum” and referred to as the “Juridicum” since 1881). The main university center, however, was situated on the eastern rim of the medieval city, in the “Latin Quarter” between the city wall (now the Goethestraße) and the Ritterstraße. The complex of buildings became the seat of the Faculty of Arts (artes liberales). The new center included the “Großes Fürstenkolleg” complete with dormitories (“Bursen”), a large heated lecture hall (“Vaporarium”), which also served as an assembly hall (“Nationenstube”).

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Leipzig’s most famous food specialty is Leipiziger Allerlei (Leipzig All Things), an originally vegetable dish which is sometimes now also served as a side dish. During the 19th and 20th centuries it gained widespread renown and underwent many modifications, but the history of Leipziger Allerlei” is not entirely clear. One legend, probably false, has it that the dish was originally developed as a ruse to protect the rich residents of the city from tax collectors and beggars in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars. These visitors would be served a vegetable dish only to demonstrate that there was no money in the household to buy meat. However, there exists a 1745 recipe for the dish, well before Napoleonic times, but there may still be some truth to the legend.

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These days, versions of “Leipziger Allerlei” can be found in the freezer section of just about any German supermarket but these are pretty pallid offerings. According to the traditional recipe, the ingredients should include morel mushrooms, crayfish tails, and bread dumplings in addition to the assortment of baby vegetables – carrots, kohlrabi, asparagus and cauliflower. Authentic fresh Leipziger Allerlei is served in June, at the start of the asparagus season, when the closed season for crayfish is over and the other vegetables are ready for harvest.

Today some of the ingredients are considered delicacies in Germany, especially the crayfish, because in 1876 a disease, accidentally introduced from North America, decimated the German population and they are now very rare locally. Nowadays, dried morels are usually used in place of the original fresh Lorchel (Gyromitra esculenta) which can cause severe poisoning or be fatal if not cooked properly. Outside of Scandinavia you are unlikely to find fresh Lorchel. The basic vegetable mixture itself consists traditionally of white asparagus, peas, carrots and cauliflower. Originally all the vegetables were individually cooked to preserve their own taste. With a stove with four burners, however, this is hardly possible, especially as bread dumplings and sauce alone require two burners. Krebsbutter is butter flavored with crab shells that can be made at home, but Germans normally buy it. Leipziger Allerlei is a festive dish, that takes time and effort, but is suitable for celebrating the founding of Leipzig University. Here is a traditional recipe:

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Leipziger Allerlei

Ingredients:

20 freshly cooked crayfish
25 g dried morels
200 g fresh white bread in slices, crusts removed
200 ml whole milk
2 eggs
salt and pepper
150 g of butter
180 g fresh peas
400 g cauliflower, cut in florets
12 small, thin carrots, peeled
12 stalks white asparagus, tough stems removed
sugar
30 g flour
1 tbsp Krebsbutter
200 ml of cream
2-4 tbsp dry white wine
fresh chervil

Instructions

Twist off the tails of the crayfish and reserve. Use the bodies for garnish.

Pour warm water over the morels to cover in a bowl.

Chop the white bread in a food processor with the milk.

Separate the eggs. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Whip 50 g of butter until smooth. Add the egg yolks to the butter and mix. Add the egg whites, yolks and butter to the white bread mix, season with salt to taste, mix thoroughly, cover, and chill.

Poach each vegetable in a separate pot. Remove with a slotted spoon when al dente and keep warm. Reserve the cooking  liquids. Mix them and reserve 250 ml.

Form about 20 dumplings from the dumpling dough with moistened hands. Boil in 2 liters of boiling salt water for 8 minutes.

Remove the morels from the water. Squeeze them vigorously and reserve 75 ml of the water.

Make the sauce by creaming 80 g butter with the flour and krebsbutter. Mix the vegetable stock, morel water, and the cream in a small pan. Bring to a slow boil and add the butter-flour mixture, small pieces at a time, stirring all the time. Add the white wine, season with salt and pepper to taste, then simmer for about 2 minutes until thickened.

Heat the crayfish tails and morels in the remaining butter.

Remove the dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon and place them on a preheated plate.  Place the vegetables around the dumplings and pour the morels and crayfish over the vegetables. Pour the sauce over the dumplings and garnish with chopped chervil.

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