Monday, 17 November 2014

Who Belongs in the Kitchen?

A friend put a picture up on Facebook recently with the caption
"Women belong in the kitchen. Men belong in the kitchen. Everyone belongs in the kitchen. Kitchen has food."
One of her friends commented that things were different when men's jobs "involved hard labour and the risk of death", so that, back then, a woman's place was in the kitchen, cooking for the men who worked down the pit or whatever.

In the Middle Ages, though, many men earned their living by cooking, in castles and manor houses and with marching armies and in taverns. Here's a medieval baker:

and here's a mobile pie baker:

Brewing was traditionally a job for women (the only two women mentioned in the Hereford Domesday are brewsters) but men did that too. The Industrial Revolution had plenty of coal miners and steel workers and men who worked in all sorts of difficult and dangerous jobs, but they all had something in common - they drank beer, and the breweries employed men to brew it. Here's a medieval brewer:

and here are the staff of Adey and White's Brewery, around 1900 (this picture comes from St Alban's Museum).

By the Victorian era, kitchen staff were mainly female, but throughout history, both men and women have cooked. Everyone belongs in the kitchen.

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