XI. HEARTH AND KITCHEN FURNITURE AND FIXTURES
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The low stove utensils are similar in the different locations, although the names do vary from place to place. Many of them have had the same fate as the low stove, in other words, they have disappeared, except for those items kept as heirlooms or for decorative purposes.
Armchairs and other seating
A common feature of many locations was that there was a wooden armchair and chairs with wooden or hemp seats next to the fireplace. At the normal height of the high back, supports are attached on which the table legs rotate and which are, vertically, held in place with a turnbuckle.
Cupboards, cabinets and racks
The people surveyed said there were generally few fittings in the kitchen in the past. By way of example, they said in Pipaón (A) that the only items were the armchair and bread-making table, the dish rack, the oven cover and the spoon rack. Some houses had small cupboards where they kept the earthenware pots, the oil cruet and salt shaker and the mortar.
In Portugalete (B), they explained that there was a cupboard to keep food and utensils, and open kitchen shelving that was one or two shelves high. In Ribera Alta (A), the wooden cupboard had two upper doors and a further two below, which were ornate, and the pattern on the wood was known as honeycombing.
In Hondarribia (G), a dish rack, made out of wood and sometimes painted white, was on the sink, and the other furniture included a cupboard where the bottles and food were kept, a table and some chairs. There was also a large wireless and rolls of sticky fly paper hanging from the ceiling.
The cupboard described below were very similar, even though they went by different names, and only differed in that they had more or fewer shelves, one or two doors in the lower part and similar features. Furthermore, this item of furniture would sometimes be found in the living room or in an outbuilding close to the kitchen, instead of in the kitchen where there were few utensils.
Pantries and their evolution
The pantry was a wooden box, hanging or placed next to a window in a cool place of the house, on the north side of the house when possible, protected by a netting, mesh or screens in the front that allowed the air to circulate and stop flies and other insects reaching the food. Milk and other perishable products were kept there. A cool room could also be used as a pantry or be located in the house’s cellar.
Descriptions of the furnishings
Kitchen goods from different periods from a variety of typical locations of the area surveyed are described below. First, the items to be found in Beasain (Gipuzkoa) in the past are described below:
1. Eltzea or lapikoa. Clay pot used to make broth every day, later replaced by enamelled metal pots.
2. Lurrontzia. Clay casserole to make stews and sauces.
3. Pertza. Metal heavy pot, 35 cm across and 22 cm high, with folding bridge handle. The majority were made out of cast iron and the oldest ones were used to cook turnips and beetroots for the pigs and the best ones to boil the milk fresh from the cows. There was usually one made out of copper used to make desserts, such as rice pudding, etc.
4. Errada. Truncated wooden pail that was used to bring water from the fountain to the farmstead. The pail was 30 cm base narrowed to 20 cm at the top, and was made out of slats of wood held together with three or four copper strips. It had two small side grips, but as it lacked a handle, it was usually transported on the head.
5. Zartagia. Metal round pan with a long handle that was used for frying.
6. Txokolate-ontzia. Round copper recipient, with spherical base, three legs and wooden handle used to make hot chocolate.
7. Burruntzalia. Semi-spherical saucepan with a long handle, everything made out of metal, to serve soups and pulses.
8. Pitxarra or txarroa. Ceramic jug to serve drinks (water, cider, wine) at the table. It was also used for children to bring water from the countain.
9. Antoisina. Individual enamel metallic vessel with handle, to drink liquids. There was not usually one per person, but everyone made do by sharing three or four between them. The use of this vessel with the same name has been seen in the rural area of Deba-Mutriku, Itziar, Elosua and Zerain (G).
10. Katilua. Large ceramic cup that was nearly exclusively used to have talos [corn tortillas] with milk, both for breakfast and for dinner.
11. Erretilua or plater handia. Round communal dish, approximately 35 cm in diameter, that was used for broth, with each person at the table using a spoon to eat directly out of it, until the 1940s when individual dishes began to be used.
12. Platera. Individual ceramic dish.
13. Gatzontzia. Wooden salt shaken, usually cubic in shape with a lid, about 22 cm high, where the cooking salt was kept.
14. Kafe-errota. Manual coffee grinder consisting of a cubic wooden box, around 15 or 18 cm high, and with a grinding mechanism inside which was turned using the outside handle. The coffee beans were put in the top and the ground coffee was collected in a small drawer at the bottom.
15. Lisakina or plantxa. Cast-iron iron, with receptacle, cover and flue. Embers were placed inside to keep it warm while it was used to iron the clothes.
16. Erratza. There were three types of brooms for sweeping: one with gorse branches and a wooden handle to sweep the entrance; a finer one consisting of a bundle of reeds, iek, without a handle; and a third one that was used in the bedrooms, and was made out of branches of mint attached to a long stick, which also disinfected the room and left a pleasant smell.