THE OLD WORLD KITCHEN

The rich Tradition of European Peasant Cooking

Peasant Communities had no organised trade. Barter was the chief form of exchange, and there were no regular tradesmen to supply goods or services. Cooking was done on a single heat source.

Possesions were scarce: A mediaeval kitchen would have been equipped with a boiling pot, a frying pan, and a kettle. As late as the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the peasant house was only one room, plus barns and a storehouse. The fireplace was the focal point, whether there was a chimney to extract smoke or not, and there would have been one large table with benches set around it, the benches also being used for sleeping.

Early mattresses were of heaped straw and were replaced later by home-produced featherbedding. The whole household gathered together at mealtime and ate from a communal bowl with wooden spoons-childern often took their meals standing up. There were wooden boards for portions of bread, and a knife, often for the shared meat. It was only after the 1800 that sugar, coffee, and tea became widely available and affordable.

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