Cooking Recipes of the Middle Ages

Semantic Annotation of Medieval German Cooking Recipe Collections

The semantic annotation of text passages, phrases or single words in the recipes lays the foundation for the comparison of the cooking recipe texts handed down in various languages. At this stage Early New High German, Middle French, and Medieval Latin texts are analysed for text relationships, dependencies, and variance between manuscripts. But the CoReMA semantic model is developed for broader use: it may be applied on various kinds of recipes dating from all historical periods. Apart from cooking recipes, the manuscripts also contain tips regarding for example the prolongation of storage life or the preparation of inks ant paint. This differentiation is also represented. The detailed annotation of the recipe texts prepares the data for future research.

To represent the semantic information relevant to the individual recipe texts, which includes the cooking process, serving instructions, and various additional practical and cultural information, elements from the TEI namespace were used whenever possible, additional elements constructed for this purpose complement the CoReMA semantic text model. All information relevant to the cooking process and related spheres (e.g. conservation) can be represented. For example, the CoReMa-specific elements <ingredient>, <dish> and <tool> contain the proprietary @en-attribute and the TEI attribute @commodity to describe the modern English name and Wikidata identifier respectively. This allows the representation of the concept in the annotation.


In general this element contains an individual text unit, e.g. a recipe or a tip. Its obligatory attributes are @n (value: 'integer'), @type, @xml:lang (value: 'de-x-enh' to indicate Early New High German) and @xml:id. The attribute @type has multiple possible values:
  • 'introduction' - opening phrase or text passage
  • 'recipe' - cooking recipe
  • 'medicinal'- treatment of a condition or illness
  • 'kitchenTip' - tip regarding a change in texture of meat, substitution of an ingredient, suitable combination of spice and dish or the like
  • 'household' - tip regarding the sphere outside the cooking process, e.g. storage life or preservation of food
  • 'dietetics'- guide or recipe concerning specific health benefits of foodstuffs
  • 'artTechnology' - guide on manufacturing of (writing) materials, e.g. ink and colours
In some cases <ab> may contain one or more <ab> elements, which hold the attribute @subtype with the value 'subrecipe' in addition to the attributes of the element <ab> described above. Subrecipes may be enclosed by a literary framework (e.g. Gr1.224), may be connected to the main recipe by a specific ingredient (e.g. Gr1.168.sub.1) or may be a variation of the recipe (e.g. Gr1.147.sub.1).


Mention of a possible substitute or variance in instruction of different kinds, which are further defined by the attribute @reason. Its possible values are:
  • 'amount' - variance in quantity. Example: "zehen mandel keren darein oder mer" (Bs1.47)
  • 'condition' - variance in state. Example: "prawn oder swarcz" (Gr1.100)
  • 'dish' - indicates the potential preparation of another dish. Example: "von den selben magstu wol machen choll vnder phiffarling" (Gr1.168)
  • 'ingredient' - potential substitute component. Example: "von Regelpirnen oder von kirchpir" (B2.3)
  • 'instruction' - potential substitute preparation step. Example: "zue kochen oder pachen" (Bs1.41)
  • 'phrasing' - variance in expression. Example: "auff dy prentt oder auff das fewr" (Gr1.224.sub.9)
  • 'serving' - potential variation in serving. Example: "gib es hin oder mach daraus ain gelbe suppen mit saffran" (Bs1.60)
  • 'title' - variance in denotation of a recipe. Example: "air Im smalcz In der vasten" - "gewalborte air" (Gr1.147)
  • 'tool' - potential substitute tool. Example: "den hafen oder kessel" (B2.3)


Optional stereotyped closing phrase of a recipe or tip. Examples:
  • "versalcz nit" (B2.5)
  • "das ist ain keren muosz" (Bs1.22)
  • "also ist es guett" (Gr1.6)


Specific (feast) day, season or single point in time. Examples:


Explicit mention of health benefits, potentially season-specific or targeted at a certain group of people. Examples:
  • "thue zue yeglicher legk das man vnnder weilen von recht mit silber Also gesunt ist es" (Bs1.146)
  • "das ist den heren gesund" (Gr1.196)


Specific kind of prepared food, distinguishable by distinct characteristics like texture or flavour profile. It must contain the attributes @en (value: English name of dish) and @commodity (value: Wikidata Q-number), and can contain @ana which can hold the values 'comparison' or 'analogy'.


Word or phrase in a different language than the surrounding text - mostly Latin.


Advisory comment mostly regarding the time after the cooking process is complete (e.g. storage life of dishes). Examples:
  • "Bewar es vor den mauessen So machtu es behalten lannge zeitt" (Bs1.97)
  • "wil dw es <time>ein halbs iar<time> behalten so laß <time>czwo vvr<time> siedenn" (Gr1.197)


Component used in the cooking process. It must contain the attributes @en (value: English name of ingredient) and @commodity (value: Wikidata Q-number), and can contain a @ana-attribute. Possible values for the @ana-attribute are:
  • 'exclusion': indicates a foodstuff that is named but is not an ingredient. Example: "den <ingredient>gratt<ingredient> thue dar von" (Gr1.158)
  • 'comparison': indicates that a foodstuff is used as comparison for form, duration, or process. Example: "als lang als ein <ingredient>rocken prott<ingredient>" (Gr1.103)
  • 'analogy': indicates that a foodstuff is used as analogy, for example in dishes prepared for lent. Example: "hatt ein varmm als ein <ingredient>rephon<ingredient>" (Gr1.158)
To capture all mentioning of the various ingredients, in some cases the referring nouns, adjectives, or verbs are equally annotated: Verbal repetitions are very common in German medieval cooking recipes. The focus of analysis is on the presence of ingredients in a recipe text instead of the quantity of its mentions. In this way double annotations bear no error risks for queries.


Distinct step of action in the cooking process. The annotation is generally linked to a verb phrase, but elliptical omissions are generally possible.


Explanation or comment regarding the cooking process. The element holds its own semantic value and exceeds the informational content of the primary instruction. Examples:
  • "Also magstu von andern sachen salssen vnd lattwering machen" (B2.1)
  • "wiltu es suess haben So thue zugker daran" (Bs1.2)
  • "dan von parben nit" (Gr1.50)


Proper name, which typically contains elements from outside the cooking sphere. Examples:


Explanatory comment by the annotating person.


Optional stereotyped introductory phrase of a recipe or tip. Examples:


Reference to another specific recipe mentioned beforehand in the manuscript or to a general dish. In case of the latter or if the reference is inconclusive, the @target attribute remains empty. Examples:
  • "In dem condiment das geschriben stet von den czwifalen" (Bs1.217)
  • "als vor gescriben stett" (Gr1.218)


Recommendation or suggestion regarding the serving of a dish. Examples:
  • "gib es hin kallt" (Bs1.14)
  • "so dw es dan hin gibst so stra wurczen dar auff" (Gr1.78)


Comment by the writer of the manuscript or the dictating cook oftentimes exceeding the cooking sphere. The @ana-attribute is used to assign the comment to a certain person. Examples:
  • "So mag der herr woll gesprechen von wann chumbt der ainn all" (Gr1.207)
  • "das fueget dir wol wann ich haimlich gemerckt han das du geren pottigen kraut yssest aber doch nicht vil So pin ich genaigt mit meiner natur zue dem haber muoss vnd darumb ich mit dir von essens wegen nicht wechseln wil." (Bs1.110)


Time span, oftentimes duration until a specific condition is fulfilled, which provides additional helpful information. Mere transitions are not annotated. Examples:


Denominaation of a recipe or tip. Examples:
  • "von gepraten Arbeis" (B2.4)
  • "Wuerst machstu aus ainem affter darmm von ainem kalb . "(Bs1.20)
  • "ain hauspressen" (Gr1.224.sub.2)
If no phrase qualifies, the element remains empty and the @type-attribute has the value 'none'. The value 'chapter' indicates, that the title refers to more than one recipe, which are connected by a certain theme, but not as closely linked as subrecipes are. Chapters may or may not be indicated in the manuscript text. The @key-attribute holds the normalized English recipe title.


Instrument used during the described process or to hold/store a dish. Any used tool is annotated as such, regardless of the process step it is used for:
  • Step in the cooking process: "walg das auf ainem <tool>tisch<tool>" (Bs1.119)
  • Step in the serving process: "gib es hin auff den <tool>tisch<tool>" (Gr1.10)
It must contain the attributes @en (value: English name of ingredient) and @commodity (value: Wikidata Q-number).


Illegible phrase or text passage.

How to cite

J. Eibinger, H. W. Klug & C. Steiner (2021). Semantic Model. In H. W. Klug (Ed.), CoReMA - Cooking Recipes of the Middle Ages. Corpus - Analysis - Visualisation. With A. Böhm , J. Eibinger and C. Steiner. (GAMS. 562.10.15) (Accessed 2023-06-02)