Monday, March 15, 2021

Cooking on a barrel by a Venetian doughnut seller

A street seller is using part of a wooden barrel like a raised hearth. So. How did that work?

Jan van Grevenbroeck (1731-1807) lived in Venice, Italy and did this intriguing watercolor and ink drawing.
The picture is currently titled "Venetian Doughnut Seller," however the fried dough would not have been called doughnuts at that time. One of the round fried dough is being taken out of the pan to be put with others on the table.
To protect the wood, I assumed there was a thick layer of dirt or sand on top of the half barrel. But thanks to Katy Hayes and Pam Williams who noticed that there may be a metal plate or pan with a handle under the coals.

There are several examples of braziers and other self contained heating units on wood tables used by street vendors.

Roasted apples, London 1820. blog post HERE
Roasting chestnuts, Paris 1820. blog post HERE
Frying fish. Rome, Italy 1816
And now for that long handled pan. Possibly a copper pan, blackened by soot from the fire (notice what may be glints on side) and wrought iron handle on a long legged trivet. Or it could be all iron.
And another long handled pan used by a street seller in Paris in 1843.
As anyone who has looked at my blog knows, I adore period drawings and often use images from various Cries and costume books. The artists may not draw dirty aprons or patches... oh wait...
...there is a patch. But I think they are drawing real people and apparatus, with perhaps some artistic liscence. A white apron may just mean that the person was wearing a clean apron. "Tiddy Doll" who sold gingerbread, dressed up in a “white and gold lace suit of clothes… white stockings and white apron." HERE
I spend as much time looking for and at pictures as I do for written descriptions. Most show interesting details - cooking equipment, food, the attire, etc - and probably locally specific (maybe a long time street seller like Tiddy Doll known for something different), because that would attract local buyers of the artist's prints and books.

Some of Jan van Grevenbroeck’s works (but not the barrel one?) are in his Illustrated Book of Venetian Costumes HERE
This post is a work in progress. Ordinarily, I would not write until I heard back from an email I sent to Italy, and did more research. For my second email to Italy I planned to link to the image (and add a couple more) I posted on a Facebook page where I hoped someone from Italy would know about cooking on a barrel c1800. However, one commentor went way awry, so I've added even more pictures and made this post instead. I apologize for it being incomplete, and will add more if I learn anything new.

More blog posts on Cries of (London, Paris, New York...) and street vendors (22 - and there will be more) HERE

©2021 Patricia Bixler Reber
Researching Food History HOME

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