(This is an element of ‘Cooking‘)
I have no way of knowing if William Sugg coined the name ‘Gas Kitchener’ but it is clear what was being aimed at with this name. Prior to the development of the gas cooking appliance, many kitchens would have been equipped with a wood or coal fired ‘range’ which would provide an oven and a hotplate for cooking and heating water. The introduction of an appliance that ‘Roasts, Boils, Fries, Grills and Bakes Pastry or Bread by Means of Luminous Flames’ is clearly revolutionary and the name ‘Kitchener’ provides a neat overall description.
It is interesting to note a number of features in the illustration above in particular the method of hanging the joint within the oven. This method would have been used predominantly in the past because the source of heat being a fire was directly below the joint and the use of a roasting tin would have interrupted the whole process. The dripping fat would have added to the process on the open fire whereas the gas Kitchener has been provided with an ‘enamelled iron dripping pan’. It may well be that the hanging arrangement is offered as something ‘familiar’ to the new customer. It is not long before this arrangement is no longer offered. Of course, the size of the joint is also a factor and William Sugg in one of his lectures claims a great saving in the ‘shrinkage’ which occurred with previous methods. This may have meant that the customer could actually buy a smaller joint when equipped with a gas Kitchener!
The essential arrangement used on gas (and electric) cookers for at least a century remains almost unchanged. The ‘grilling’ area below the top plate, the control for the temperature of the oven, the enamelled inside to the oven, even the ‘flashlight’ or ‘pilot’ of more recent times for gas are part of this design which is dated around 1880 – and all for £20 excluding the ‘Utensils’!
Here is the ultimate domestic Gas Kitchener illustration from William Sugg’s book, “The Domestic Uses of Coal Gas”. As you can see the Kitchener itself includes a built-in gas fire and a water supply and is paired up with both a Plate Warmer and a Therma ‘instantaneous’ water heater. I cannot imagine the gas fire being used whilst cooking without burning the cook or setting fire to his/her clothes. Probably the fire was used to heat the room prior to cooking – or to sit round after work was completed!
Despite this last comment I have now (2014) discovered that the NOTE on the illustration that says ‘The Roasting Screen is omitted so that the construction of the fire can be seen’ indicates that this feature was included in order to allow the cook to roast a joint in front of the fire in exactly the same way that this would have been done in a coal fired range so ensuring there was no excuse not to buy!
This is a page from Jenny Sugg’s ‘The Art of Cooking by Gas’ of 1890. Note the water heating arrangement on the left with a tap for drawing off.
UNDER CONTINUOUS DEVELOPMENT – PLEASE TRY AGAIN LATER
Copyright © Chris Sugg 2006-13