Take a look around your (not so) state of the art kitchen. Fed up of the dodgy fridge door and those stains you just can’t get off the hob? It’s hard to imagine life before the modern kitchen, so just for fun, we take a look back through the ages. Spot the difference!
The Neolithic period (c4500 – 2300BC) was an important one for the British kitchen. During this time we began to compliment our hunting and gathering with domesticated plants and animals, so food became easier to obtain. Forget fine china, hot drinks and foods may have been heated in skulls, and archaeologists believe that we owe the appearance of beer to our ancient ancestors.
When In Rome
Archaeologists have found evidence that the Roman kitchen contained utensils made from wood, metal, glass and pottery; and saucepans and frying pans were already in use in the Roman home. Surprisingly well equipped, the Roman kitchen (due to fire risk) was often a separate room on the side of the house. Ever think it should have stayed that way?
In A Stew With The Vikings
The Vikings loved a good stew, cooked using an open fire situated in the centre of the house. Perhaps this is why we now consider the kitchen the hub of the home? Finding their wooden bowls would burn in the fire, Vikings placed hot stones within their stew to heat it through. Armed with spoons and knives (no forks), Viking families sat down to eat twice a day, but would often leave stew cooking throughout the day so that workers could help themselves.
Rich Tudors ate a diet as varied as our own, so the Tudor kitchen had to be well equipped. Think of the traditional Tudor banquet, with its multiple courses washed down with mead. While some households had an oven, most food was still being cooked over an open fire in Tudor times. Still strangers to forks, our Tudor ancestors kitted out their kitchens with cauldrons and spits, and wood or clay utensils. Richer families served their food on pewter or silver dishes – how many of us can say the same?!
With the Georgian era came the oven as we know it. OK, so there was no way to gauge the temperature at this point, but by instinct and experiment, pies and breads could be produced. Did you know that the first cookery book was written in Georgian times? Unsurprisingly the recipes lacked detail where temperatures were concerned! The lucky, elegant but lazy upper classes would munch their way through between five and twenty five dishes in one sitting, while the lower Georgian family would always eat in daylight, when it was cheaper to prepare, serve and eat.
It’s a world away from microwave meals and dinner in front of the television, but maybe we could learn something from our ancestors. Without kitchen gadgets and the distractions of modern life as we know it, meals were made with natural, whole ingredients and taken together at a leisurely pace. Sounds good to us.