Monday, November 9, 2015

Hearth cooking - rigging a pot over the fire

First.  Place the fire under the pot. Simple enough.  but.  In the 1820s a British naval officer, Basil Hall and two others were riding along Lake Erie.  In a cottage, they tried to start a fire, only to be chided by the young woman that they had not built the fire under the crane.  So what did the naval men do?

After riding 18 miles on horseback along the Canadian shore of Lake Erie, and hungry, they came upon a cottage with “a comely young woman.”  The three men tried to light a fire, but it was “no easy matter to strike a light,” until an Irish lad “thrusting his nose into the ashes, declared there was a spark.”  After getting the fire started, the young lady told then to “get the tea-kettle under weigh” while teasing them, Hall in particular, for not building the fire under the crane which would hold the kettle.  For some reason, instead of shoving the fire under the kettle, Hall took great pride in detailing how he moved the kettle to the fire –

“I raised myself, however, several degrees in her estimation, by bringing a little nautical science to bear upon this matter.  With a couple of sticks, planted on the side of the chimney, I got up a sort of outrigger or prop, which being applied to the suspending chain, bulged it out, and thus guided the tea-kettle to its proper birth over the flames.”  

Hall, Basil.  Travels in North America, in the years 1827 and 1828.  Hall (1788-1844) was the younger son of a Scottish baronet, and became an officer in the British navy.

©2015 Patricia Bixler Reber
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