The preservation, preparation and eventual serving of foods and meals within a Castle was often a full-time (and time consuming) job. It took MANY workers to prepare the different food types that the “Higher Born” required. As we have seen in a previous Article, there were MANY varieties with regards to Medieval food. What a “Commoner” ate, was NOT was a Noble did. Unlike the Commoner, Nobles employed different “skill sets”to ready their meals (both Daily and for important Feasts). The following is a list of “who” would do “what” in a “typical” Medieval Castle Kitchen:
Responsible for bringing in and storing recently purchased food stuffs. He was also accounted for “what was needed” and “how much was available”.
The Carver was responsible for properly cutting meat portions appropriately. He would also place said “cuts”” on plates (if required). Animal fats were often left on meat “cuts”, as fat was seen as a “necessary” component of a meal.
Most Castles employed up to 6 “Cooks”. Each was responsible to The Chief Cook. It was his (or her) job to make sure all foods were properly prepared to taste. The Chief Cook normally had been employed in a Castle Kitchen for MANY years before attaining this position. They often (by this time), did very little cooking themselves (and mainly supervised such).
The Cupbearer was responsible for making sure all beverages served were “fresh” and “untainted”. He was also responsible for actually pouring the beverages (and making sure everyone ALWAYS had a full tankard or glass). The Cupbearer also was responsible for clean glasses and replacing broken ones. The Cupbearer was the evolutionary “first step” to the “modern” Bartender. In Castles, (despite what is thought), women rarely held this position.
The Dresser made sure that food was properly “placed” and “displayed” on plates and serving dishes. Food had to “look” good (as well as taste as such). This was especially important for Feasts and Banquets. Dressers were also employed to “arrange” tables according to whatever “theme” was required. They often worked closely with the “Lady” of The Castle.
A Lavel was a brass or copper Bowl which contained fresh water. This water was used by Nobles to wash their hands in between meal courses. Despite popular theory, Cutlery was not actually used in food consumption until the inception of The Tyne (a small pitchfork instrument used to pick up meat). The Tyne was developed in France around the 10[sup]th[/sup] Century. Mostly one used one's hands to pick up and eat their meal. Spoons were used (as were Knives). The Laverer was responsible for bringing the water bowl around to each Guest (to wash their hands). He or she was also responsible for changing the water between “courses”.
These were young boys (10 to 14 years), that were responsible for cleaning all dishes, pots, pans and other cooking utensils. Females (when employed) were known as “Sculleries”. The job was considered the “lowest” in The Kitchen.
Responsible for making Pasteries and assisting The Pantler (Head Baker). The two positions were not too much different in many regards. They worked Ovens and often prepared different kinds of Breads.
The Rotisser's only responsibility was to turn the meat (whatever kind), on a Spit. He or she made sure meats served were properly cooked through. It was considered an somewhat important position.
The Saucer was employed to make different sauces, gravies and the like. They worked closely with the Chief Cook of a Kitchen.
Servitors were responsible for bringing the different courses of food to the diners of a Feast, Banquet (or regular meal). They were also tasked with removing the different plates when a diner was finished.