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Found 3 results

  1. A practical implement In his history of iron utensils of the hearth and kitchen from the origins to the 19th century, Lecoq maintains that the kitchen utensil racks and bars were in common use. Usefull and lovely Hotermans Collection nº 1971-1-577-4 McCord-Stewart Museum Photography : Yves Couture For ages, the hearth was the heart of the home, the center of family life. The hearth and what was around it or hung on it was an important part of the decoration of the house. That is what visitors saw when they came in. We can easily understand the lenght families went to to embellish the hearth. In France, the utensil rack was definitely one of the center pieces of the living space. It was an instrument of which one wanted to be proud if, of course, one had the means to be proud. We find that blacksmiths forged highly refined work with these racks, in France. As Plummer claims (1), for New-England at least, they were offered as gifts to newly-weds with the necessary utensils. So highly praised an object was kept by families for generations and if one believes Lecoq, d'Allemagne and the Hotermans collection of the McCord Stewart Museum (there are 52 in this collection), they were numerous and varied in France. An elaborate example of a kitchen rack. These racks decorated the home and were a status symbol This one is from the Hotermans Collection, McCord-Stewart Museum, Photo, Yves Couture Lecoq held these racks in high esteem Lecoq uses four pages and more to acquaint us with the support systems of the french kitchen utensils. He analyses simple hanging bars but the majority of this real estate is covered by the kitchen utensil rack. Two of these are to be found in the Musée Le Secq des Tournelles See scan below. Lecoq, page 222 He analyses eleven racks in detail ; he describes the evolution of the décor of the bars of these racks from the 16th century to the end of the 18th century, Louis XVI era. He goes into the details of the ways these were hung on the hearth or the wall next to it as we can see in the following pic. The racks we find in Lecoq's work have a great esthetical value. They come from every corner of France, from Brittany and Normandie to Provence. The oldest specimen known to him is from the 16th century. Its importance in France is corroborated by D'Allemagne and Hotermans who built the impressive collection I have so often refered to and will often refer to in this blog. Le Musée de ferronnerie Le Secq des Tournelles Racks are showcased in the Lesecq des Tournelles museum in Rouen, France. From Decorative Antique Ironwork, a pictorial treasury by Henry René d'Allemagne All the plates from the 1924 French catalogue of the Le Secq des Tournelles museum of Rouen Dover Publications, Inc., New York, 1968, Plate 340 Four of them appear in the pic above. Three are made in cut out flat iron. They are beautifull objects. However, the one on the left of the second row is of particular interest. The decoration in the center of this rack is made with what is called 'brindilles', twigs. This particular one also appears in Lecoq, page 222, where he produced a drawing of it (compare drawing and photograph). These twigs have been forge welded. They are very thin. As I made a reproduction of a comparable rack, the one that appears at the begining of the present post, I became aware that great care and attention are a must when forging these, They would easily burn. This one is particularly demanding with regards to the work that has to be done. The bouquet is twice as large as the one I have reproduced with twice the number of twigs. Someone paid a hefty price for this implement. Works of this quality are not born in a void. The kitchen utensil rack had a wide spread presence in the homes of France. Obviously all the homes could not afford such quality work. Most probably would have had to be content with a simple hanging bar. The kitchen racks of the Hotermans Collection The brass rosettes would indicate a rack from Brittany Hotermans Collection nº 71.1.577.26 Mc-Cord-Stewart Museum Photograph by Yves Couture I have counted no less than 22 utensils from this collection photographed in Lecoq's book. This collection was a reference for him. The Hotermans Collection was acquired by the Stewart Museum of Montréal in 1971. The arrival of this collection in Montreal raised a certain enthousiasm.​ In the article the link refers to, there are some photographs of objects from the collection and one of the authors made two sketches. These sketches are of two kitchen racks.One rack has hooks and a bar permitting the hanging of utensils with hooks or eyelets forged at the end of the handle. The other one (below) is a bar cut out and raised in the main bar. And these are only two of the 52 in the collection. The second rack drawn by madame Marquis Hotermans Collection nº 71.1.577.21 McCord-Stewart Museum Photograph by Yves Couture Last year, I was priviledged in gaining access to this collection. I can measure, photograph, describe these implements first hand which enables me to make these measurements available to blacksmiths and their clients. And this collection permits us to develop an accurate understanding of the kitchens of the past and of la Nouvelle-France in particular : Hotermans collection nº 1971.1.577.37 McCord-Stewart Museum photograph by Yves Couture I have often noted that to look into a kitchen of the Renaissance was at the same time to look into a kitchen of the centuries preceding it and those that followed. Let us add that a glimpse in the kitchens of France is a glimpse in the kitchens of la Nouvelle-France. To cook on the hearth had its techniques and ways of doing things. In the period that interests us, the ways of doing things on the hearth were well set. Detail kitchen utensil rack Hotermans Collection nº 71.1.577.33 McCord-Stewart Museum Photograph by Yves Couture Conclusions & questions With d'Allemagne's, Lecoq's research and the Hotermans collection we can conclude that : kitchen racks were plentifull in France: they were to be found everywhere; they have attracted the interest of french collectors ; the racks that remain are often the fruit of exceptional work on the part of the french blacksmiths. And of course, a question arises : does the abundance of kitchen racks in France permit to conclude to a comparable abundance in Italy? Germany, England? We shall see. And if you read french you might want to find the answers immediately on my french blog. *********************************** Notes (1) Plummer, page 26
  2. The dangling spit was widely used The dangling spit as described by Seymour Lyndsay in "Iron and Brass Implements of the English House" was hung in front of the fire : A simple form of the dangle spit, the immediate forerunner of the botlle jack, has an adjustable hook or group of hooks suspended by a cord, the winding and unwinding of which provided the rotary movement which was assisted by two weight flyers at the top of the metal stem. ...page 24 (100) Symour Lyndsay's dangle spit drawing nº 100, left It was thus used in England. It was also used in France. We find a "generic" drawing in Lecoq's "Les objets de la vie domestique", page 129 : Similar to Seymour Lyndsay's It was so widely used in France that the French of la Nouvelle-France are believed by some authors to have taught the technique to the Indians (Desloge, page 35). The implement was also in use in New-England. There are two in Plummer's "Colonial Wrought Iron" With the one on the left, the cook would have had to rewind the twine quite often. I will reproduce the one we find in Brears' "The Kitchen Catalog". This to me is the most elegant of these spits that I have seen. His drawings are to scale. I drew it to scale 1:1. Brears dangling spit in his kitchen catalog, drawing nº 161 All dimensions are in millimiters. Total height, 480 mm. The hand written text and the drawings with dimensions are taken from the book I (slowly) fill with drawings of the hearth and kitchen implements of la Nouvelle-France. Brears' drawing : Brears' Kitchen Catalog nº 161 Top part of the structure with the weights to be hung on it : The dimensions of this part : Dimensions of the top part of the implement The hook part : The hooks : This is a fun project. The main difficulty lies in the forge welding of the arms of the cross. I will make the weights with lead. Cant wait for the first quails or chicken to turn in front of the fire!
  3. Scappi's Opera is often mentioned here on IFI, and is a particularly precious book for Thomas Powers. So is it for me and it ought to be for all blacksmiths interested in the reproduction or copy of hearth and kitchen implements of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. Scappi's book came out in 1590. Scappi's work : an important resource If you eat with any enthousiasm, Scappi is your man. He gives us one thousand recipes and a list of what foods to eat at what time of the year, a food-season section. For those of us who are interested in kitchen implements of the XVII° and XVIII° centuries in Nouvelle-France or elsewhere in the western world, Book I holds a wealth of information. It lists all the utensils and implements that must be present in a kitchen of the Renaissance and those required for camping … though 'camping' might not be the approriate term for the outings of a pope. Scappi was a cook to cardinals and a pope. Elsewhere, I have noted that cooking techniques and the tools to work had been the same for centuries in 1590 when Scappi's book appeared. It must be added that they would remain the same until that moment when cooking went from downhearth to bar grate "due to the use of coal instead of wood (1)" in England (± 1750) and, here, from downhearth to the cook stove quite sometime after la Nouvelle-France, those few acres of snow as Voltaire put it, were exchanged by the king of France for the sweet sugar of the isles (1763). These techniques and tools were those of the cooks of la Nouvelle-France and looking in Scappi's kitchen is looking into our kitchens and in all the kitchens where cooking was done on the hearth, downhearth, Two editions of Scappi's Opera The original edition is accessible online in Italian and freely. On my shelves, I have the english translation by Scully published at the Toronto University Press. The translation in itself is notable and must have been a labor of love. The text is completed by comments and references which are all very usefull. And as might be expected, there is an important bibliography. To all this, Scully adds : an index of persons appearing in Scappi's book; a complete index of all the ingredients used in the recipes; an index of preparations, i.e. recipes; an index of procedures or as Scully put it "concerned with actions relating to foodstuff and transformation and kitchen work" (page 758); another one of kitchen equipment; an index of measures including weights, volumes, sizes, quantities, distances, times and heats; an index of miscellaneous terms such as Garda Lake, meal, fine, banquets ...; and finaly, an index for the terms from the conclave for which Scappi was head cook. Scully's work is precious, the work of a scolar of the highest level for which I have nothing but admiration. However, traduttore, traditore ... Scully is guilty ... somewhat ... well ... a little ... In the recipe noº 39 of book II, page 154, Scully translates "pero si ha da cuocere a lento fuoco" by "It has to cook though over a low fire". And again in recipe no° 55, book III, Scully uses the word "over" when Scappi writes "faccianosi cuocere a lento fuoco". The word "over" might mislead some in a world where the bar-b-q is used in a majority of households. Some readers may think that because the meats were cooked with fire like that is case with the bar-b-q the meats were roasted above the fire like on a bar-b-q, which was not the case. A lento fuoco is the downhearth cooking level of heat that became the "low" in the "high-medium-low" range of cooking heats in our modern kitchens. I could not find an indication by Scappi as to how and where the meat was to be positioned. It seems the question was never asked, that eveyone who cooked downhearth knew what roasting ment. Scappi's engravings however, no° 1 and no° 6, are clear with regards to this technique. The roasting of meat is done in front of the fire and not over the fire. I am not a translator but I would nevertheless offer to translate "arrostire a fuoco lento" by "to roast slowly" or "roast at a low heat" which aptly translates the degree of heat and does not position the meat in space with regards to the fire. So I was nitpicking. Scully's scholarship is impeccable and generously, would I say, gives us access to the cookbook of the Renaissance a sort of encyclopedia of the kitchen implements for downhearth cooking. Yes, it is a window through which we can better see in the kitchens of la Nouvelle-France. — — — — — — — — Notes Roberts, Hugh D.; "Dowhearth to Bar Grate, an illustrated account of the evolution in cooking due to the use of coal instead of wood"; Wiltshire Folk Life Society, Malborough, Wiltshire, England; 1981; 86 pages ; quoted from the title page.