On the way driving south to the Black Forest, we stopped for a couple of days at some friends house near Stuttgart. The next day we were served “Maultaschen” for lunch, which is a type of meat pocket. It instantly reminded me of an oversized Ravioli. Maybe there was an Italien influence?
There are different legends about the origin of the Maultaschen. One legend says the Cistercian monks of the Maulbronn Monastery, where the name Maultasche originates, wanted to hide the forbidden meat from God during Lent, which popularly led to the nickname “Herrgottsbscheißerle” (cheating on God)
A slightly modified legend said, it was Protestants who secretly added meat to the dumplings, which was originally only filled with herbs and spinach. The tradition in Swabian families goes well with the fact that “dumplings in the broth” is the typical dish on the Thursday before Good Friday or “Karfreitag”. The already made dumplings are also available the next day on Good Friday, in other possible ways of preparation. Toppings could be cheese, bacon and/or fried onions.
It is generally believed that the dumplings are a Swabian copy of the well-known Italian pasta, such as Ravioli. There are numerous areas in the Maulbronn area, where Waldensians, which is a group of Protestant religious refugees, arrived from northern Italy.
The Waldensians also introduced the mulberry tree, alfalfa, and tobacco cultivation, in addition to the potato in 1710 to southern Germany. This could make “Maultaschen” of Italian origin. The spinach filling also points to the Italian origin.
Regardless of the origin, these Maultaschen dumplings used to be considered a poor people’s dish, because meat, bread and vegetable leftovers could be processed in the filling, and thus offered a next day’s meal.