databas cerddi guto'r glyn

Cooking utensils

There were many ways of cooking in this period, but the two most common methods were roasting meat on an iron rod above the fire, and cooking everything in a large pot or cauldron which was also placed above the flames of the fire.

Cooking above the fire at Hendre’r-ywydd Uchaf, c.1508.
Cooking food in a Tudor farmhouse
Click for a larger image

The roasting-spit,called a bêr, was used to cook pieces of meat.[1] The rod was pushed through the pieces and placed on a pair of firedogs near the flames. The meat was slowly roasted and the rod was occasionally turned to cook the meat thoroughly. It was a topos in the poetry to refer to the bêr, with mention of the plentiful meat roasted upon it serving to emphasize the patron’s generosity. Dafydd Llwyd noted that the fireplace in Cochwillan was full of berau, crochanau a chig (‘roasting rods, cauldrons and meat’).[2]

Cauldrons and large pots were also placed on the fire to cook pottages and soups. In these pots, some pieces of meat were boiled with vegetables in a variety of liquids such as wine, milk, and even blood, see Meats. Other items apart from the cauldron might also be placed above the fire, such as a tripod: a device with three legs to hold other pots and pans. The tripod would sometimes hold a siaffer, a pan to cook more specialized food or sauces, as noted by Guto’r Glyn in his praise of Sieffrai Cyffin of Oswestry:

Pob rhyw fwyd mewn pupr a fai 
O fewn siaffr a fyn Sieffrai. 
every such food in pepper that be
in a chafing dish is what Sieffrai wants.

(poem 97.55-6)

The siaffr was a kind of chafing dish. The name is borrowed from the Middle English chauffer, originally from the word chaffe (‘to heat’).[3] Later examples of the siaffr show that there was a place directly under the pan to light a fire, suggesting it was used as a small furnace. In contrast to a cauldron or a basin, the food was cooked lightly and slowly; a more effective method to cook specialized food and delicacies.


[1]: Geiriadur Prifysgol Cymru, 273, s.v. bêr.
[2]: I. Williams (gol.), Gwaith Dafydd Llwyd o Fathafarn (Caerdydd,1939), C.00.
[3]: 'Oxford English Dictionary', s.v. chauffer, n.¹.
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