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posted 01-30-2002 10:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for strawberry22401   Click Here to Email strawberry22401     Edit/Delete Message
I am 15 and I am doing a project for my history class that is due in one month(today is 01/30/02). I am focusing my project on the kitchen portion of any medieval castle. I need to know about menus and foot types and everything about the chefs...where they slept or lived in the castle, how many of them were in an everyday castle, what they wore, how they kept food fresh...etc. The castle can be from anywhere in the world. I don't want run down castles that now just look like pieces of rock but still standing in one piece. Any information would be a great deal of help. Thank you.

Erik Schmidt
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posted 01-31-2002 05:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Erik Schmidt   Click Here to Email Erik Schmidt     Edit/Delete Message
Do you have to focus on one particular castle? I would suggest doing a general study of medieval kitchens and cooking.
The problem you would have in focussing on one castle as your example, and I'm guessing you are wanting photos of the kithen, is that if the castle is still standing, and therefore recently occupied, then the kitchen has been modified over the centuries into something typical of the 17th, 18th, 19th or even 20th century.
Finding photos of a castle kitchen is hard enough, finding one from an intact castle which dates from the medieval period would be asking a lot.

That said, check out you local library for books on general castle life and medieval cooking. You may just find most of the info there.
The true castles were built up until about 1470, a little before the new world, and all it's new foods, were discovered. So cooking in the middle ages did not have use of the tomato, potato, peppers or chocolate, as wel as a few other foods, and sugar did not become common until the 17th century or so.

The kitchen had some basic tables for prepering food, the main action happening in the large fireplace which every kitchen had. Here large pots were hung over the fire and cooked constantly, with vegetables and meat.
Meat was often spit roasted, and in later centuries they even invented mechanical spit turning devices to replace the servant.
A bread oven would also be built somewhere in the castle. This was a large domed stone or brick oven which would be heated by a wood fire inside until hot. Then the fire was pushed aside and dough was pushed in to bake into bread.
I guess the menus varied depending on what was available seasonally and if important guests were coming for a feast. The menu could be very extravagant, and involved a lot of decorating of the food, which was mostly composed of meat.
The clothing of the cooks depended on the century, but I don't recall them being dressed in any special way and the probably slept on the floor like most others.
How many would depend on the size of the castle nad the importance(wealth) of the owner, but I have no idea of the number.

Check this page for more info; http://www.florilegium.org/files/FOOD/idxfood.html


posted 02-01-2002 04:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter   Click Here to Email Peter     Edit/Delete Message
Erik has posted some good advice and starters for you (sorry about the pun).
Medieval kitchens were basic, and many of them survive in different forms. As stated they tended to be large (for ventilation), bread ovens were often outside the kitchen. Maybe next to storage cellers for grain access.
The remains of a bread oven were excavated at our nearby Caergwrle Castle some years ago. Huge stone sinks stood against outside walls for drainage. Floors were grooved to carry waste & offal away into the moat. Many kitchens had their own well, or perhaps the only well of the castle.
People that worked in the kitchen, slept in the kitchen. To one side of the main working area on rushes. Maybe up against the oven wall in winter.
I do have a kitchen pic of a castle in Italy, Castello di Manta. Will try and post it for you on the site over the weekend.

All times are PT (US)

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