Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tudor Kitchen, Part 2

As I mentioned in Part 1, in 2007 I was fortunate enough to visit London, England.  The number one item on my "to do" list was to visit the Hampton Court Palace, which Henry VIII used as one of his palaces.  It has a working Tudor kitchen and I want to share what I saw with you.

This part focuses on food preparation tools.

This turns a spit automatically, so some poor soul doesn't have to sit there for hours doing it by hand.

These tools allow you to suspend a pot over the fire and adjust its height.

A chunk of tree trunk serves as a chopping block for meat.

A grinder for sharpening knives.

This looks like a handy, stable bowl for chopping things like herbs.  I have a similar one that is smaller and came with a blade that was curved to fit (an Alaskan ulu knife).  I don't know if this had a curved blade with it or not.  I know that having a bowl for chopping makes the work easy and efficient.

Compare it to this mortar, which is about 10 inches in diameter and set into a counter.  Wow!

 This grater looks like it will do a good job!

 These are pipkins (ceramic first, metal below).  They are small, footed saucepans or cooking vessels.  The feet keep them stable and raised above a bed of coals, allowing air to circulate to help the coals stay hot.  Notice the glazing, which is not uniform over the container.  Glazing was expensive although it does seal the pot and makes it easier to clean.

This is a fry pan sitting on a stand.  Since the pan doesn't have feet, the stand raises it and stabilizes it.  Behind the pan is another pipkin.  The hole in the handle allows it to stay cool over the fire.  Some people say you can put a wooden stick in there to help move it but I would be concerned it would break the handle.

These are a grate and a drip pan.  The grate helps you cook directly over the coals, like a piece of fish you want to cook quickly.  The drip pan catches the juices of the meat as it cooks so you can baste with it or make a gravy.  **This could be a griddle instead!  Or it might play both parts.

 This stand can be used with a variety of pots or pans to raise them above the coals.  If a fry pan comes with its own legs, it is called a "spider". 

I noticed that this kitchen had a lot of brick counters on which the food was cooked, instead of a lot of little fire pits scattered around the room.  The counter had small openings with bars. This put the cooking surface at a comfortable height and allowed the cook to better control the fire's overall temperature.  I think you would bring over coals from a main fire, place them in the pit and put the pots over it for cooking.

These tools help you manipulate the fire.  I have similar ones (it helps to have friends who are blacksmiths!) so I would use the forked object to find live coals buried in mounds of ash. 

Some food was cooked in copper bowls set into the counter top with a fire built below it.

 The available techniques were varied, not primitive at all.  Food was baked, boiled, broiled, roasted, grilled, fried, and stewed.  The temperatures for cooking were controlled well.  This kitchen appears to be efficient and quite useful!

Part 3, "Food and Storage" will arrive next.

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