At the Tables of the Monks: The Larderer

Monks Medieval-kitchen-sink

With this blog post, our tales of the monastic kitchen come to an end —  for now.

THE LARDERER (p. 203-204)

[Note: The Abbey paid the larderer for his services, since this person did not belong to the cloistered community.]

The larderer should be “as perfect, just, and faithful a servant” as could be found. He had charge of the keys of all the outhouses attached to the great larder of the monastery, which in one Custumnal are specified as “the hay-house, the stockfish-house, and the pudding-house.” These keys, together with that of the outer larder itself, he had always to carry with him on his girdle, as he alone might be responsible for their safety. In all matters he, too, was to be under the kitchener, and not to absent himself without his permission. Amongst his various duties a few may be mentioned here. He had to grind and deliver in powder to the cook all the pepper, mustard, and spices required for the cooking of the conventual meals. When the convent were to have “bake-meats,” such as venison, turbot, eels, etc., the larderer had to prepare the dish for the cook, and to sprinkle it over with saffron. All the live animals intended for the kitchen, such as sheep, bullocks, calves, pigs, etc., had to pass through his hands. He had to see to the killing, skinning, and preparing them for the spit ; the tallow he kept in order to provide the treasurer with material for the winter candles. The larderer also had to see that the live birds, such as pheasants, partridges, capons, hens, chickens, pigeons, etc., were fed properly, and were ready for the table when the kitchener should need them. In the same way the store of fish, both in the stews, and salted in the fish-house, were under his charge, as were also the peas and beans for the convent pottage.

[Note: All information quoted from F. A. Gasquet’s English Monastic Life (1905, public domain, and transcribed by Richenda Fairhurst, July 2007).]