Medieval tongs??

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nest
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Medieval tongs??

Postby nest » Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:56 pm

Hi
Is there any evidence for the use of cooking tongs in 14/15c?? I've had a quick poke around but have not yet found any images for tongs and am keen to save myself from scorched knuckles this year.

Kind regards
nest



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Brother Ranulf
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Re: Medieval tongs??

Postby Brother Ranulf » Wed Apr 23, 2014 6:42 pm

Tongs were certainly used - but not in the kitchen.

In "Medieval Finds From York" they appear under the heading of metalworking tools in mid-14th to early 15th century contexts; they are mentioned in earlier texts as part of a goldsmith's tool kit and appear in the rare images of smiths working at their forges.

In the late 12th century Alexander Neckham listed the contents of a manorial kitchen, which may well have remained fairly constant until post-medieval times. He includes a small table for preparing vegetables, pots, tripods, a mortar and pestle, a hatchet, a stirring stick, a hook, a cauldron, a bronze vessel, a small pan, a baking pan, a fleshhook, a griddle, small pitchers, a trencher, a bowl, a platter, a pickling vat and specific knives for cleaning fish . . . a large spoon for skimming . . . a pepper mill, a hand mill . . . a variety of pantry knives, shaggy towels, tablecloth, hand towels and more - but no tongs.

A fleshhook and long spoons seem to feature commonly in images from the time, but I guess that the methods used in medieval kitchens ruled out any need for tongs.


Brother Ranulf

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nest
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Re: Medieval tongs??

Postby nest » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:41 pm

Thanks for the reply, Brother Ranulf, it confirms my suspicions having not found any references/images myself. I'll just have to be more careful getting my fried fig pastries out of the frying pan!

Regards
nest



Ezykle
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Re: Medieval tongs??

Postby Ezykle » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:31 pm

Fish slice made of wood?

Brother Ranulf could you send me the inventory of the kitchen, it would be an interedting read.

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Re: Medieval tongs??

Postby Brother Ranulf » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:59 pm

Others may be interested to see it as well, so here seems a good place to post it.

This is from manuscript Worcester Q.50 folios 1-18, which is one of many surviving copies of Neckham's De nominibus utensilium dating to about 1180 (on on-line version in Latin with Anglo-Norman notes from manuscript MS Bruges 536 can be found at https://archive.org/stream/avolumevocab ... 2/mode/1up)

"In a kitchen there should be a small table on which cabbage may be minced and also lentils, peas, shelled beans, beans in the pod, millet, onions and other vegetables of the kind that can be cut up. There should also be pots, tripods, a mortar, a hatchet, a pestle, a stirring stick, a hook, a cauldron, a bronze vessel, a small pan, a baking pan, a meathook, a griddle, small pitchers, a trencher, a bowl, a platter, a pickling vat and knives for cleaning fish. In the vivarium let fish be kept, in which they can be caught by net, fork, spear or light hook, or with a basket. The chief cook should have a cupboard in the kitchen where he may store away aromatic spices, and bread flour sifted through a sieve - and also used for feeding young fish - may be hidden away there. Let there be also a cleaning area where the entrails and feathers of ducks and other domestic fowl can be removed and the birds cleaned. Likewise there should be a large spoon for removing foam and skimming. Also there must be hot water for scalding fowl.

"Have a pepper mill and a hand mill. Small fish for cooking should be put into a pickling mixture, that is water mixed with salt. To be sure, pickling is not for all fish, for there are different kinds: mullets, soles, eels, lampreys, mackerel, turbot, sperlings, gudgeons, sea bream, young tunnies, cod, plaice,stargazers, anglers, herring, lobsters fried in half an egg, bougues, sea mullets and oysters. There should also be a garde-robe pit through which the filth of the kitchen may be evacuated. In the pantry let there be shaggy towels, tablecloth and ordinary hand towels which shall hang from a pole to avoid mice. Knives should be kept in the pantry; and an engraved sauce dish, a saltcellar, a cheese container, a candelabra, a lantern, a candlestick and baskets. In the cella (storeroom) should be casks, tuns, wineskins, cups, cup cases, spoons, ewers, basins, baskets, pure wine, cider, ale, unfermented wine, mixed wine, claret, nectar, mead, piument, pear wine, red wine, wine from Auvergne and clove-spiced wine."

The word translated "hatchet" can also mean a cleaver; a meathook here means a fleshhook, an implement with a straight iron shaft having three curving hooks at right angles to it; the vivarium is a fish-pond; this is a manorial kitchen, not one in a town house or castle. Basins and towels relate to the washing of hands before and after each meal. As for fish-slices of wood - probably not, since specific strangely-shaped fish knives were used for both preparing and eating fish (they feature in the Museum of London book on Knives and Scabbards and in illustrations of banquet scenes showing fish being served).


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nest
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Re: Medieval tongs??

Postby nest » Mon Apr 28, 2014 1:18 pm

Thanks for the additional info!



Ezykle
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Re: Medieval tongs??

Postby Ezykle » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:56 pm

Aye cheers for the additional info



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Re: Medieval tongs??

Postby Alan E » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:15 pm

Would a 'bakery' be a completely separate area from the 'kitchen' (I suspect so, in large establishments)?

What are those 'shovels' seen for putting bakery items into/taking them out of ovens?

Would (a small version?) of those be suitable (perhaps what was intended by "wooden fish slice"?) ?


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Re: Medieval tongs??

Postby 40/- freeholder » Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:26 pm

The wooden "shovel" used by the baker is known as a peel.



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Re: Medieval tongs??

Postby Brother Ranulf » Wed Apr 30, 2014 11:54 am

In manorial contexts a bakehouse (and brewhouse) would be separate from the kitchen; in a castle the baking might be done in the kitchen using ovens built into the walls. The peel would be used in these ovens, both for bread and pies. Fish would be cooked in the hearths rather than the ovens.

Neckham (in another section of De nominibus utensilium) mentions fish cooked in a mixture of wine and water, so in a pan or pot rather than on a griddle. The pot or pan would then be taken from the heat using a cloth. The Forme of Cury of 200 years later mentions pieces of fish cooked in vinegar and wine, pike boiled in a earthen pan, mackerel in water and onions, salmon broth and other similar recipes - frying seems to be fairly rare.


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Re: Medieval tongs??

Postby Type16 » Thu May 01, 2014 11:39 am

Thankyou for the discussion.
Really interesting and something I have had a long interest in - re utensils.


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Re: Medieval tongs??

Postby Brother Ranulf » Mon Jun 23, 2014 9:42 pm

Just to illustrate some metalworking tongs, and to prove that monks did have a sense of humour, this is an illustration from the British Library manuscript Harley 315 of the first half of the 12th century. It was produced at Canterbury, but it shows St Dunstan working as a silversmith at Glastonbury Abbey. He sits at his forge and tweaks the Devil's nose with his tongs (the Devil is having a bad hair day - this was a standard way of portraying Satan at that time):

St Dunstan ms Harley 315 - Copy - Copy.jpg


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"Patres nostri et nos hanc insulam in brevi edomuimus in brevi nostris subdidimus legibus, nostris obsequiis mancipavimus" - Walter Espec 1138


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