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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

158: Spitjack for roasting meat

In early modern Europe, meat was roasted over fire on spits rotated by clockwork jacks, like this wall-mounted example. It is similar to that shown fixed on the hearth in Pieter Aertsen’s Preparations for a feast (displayed at right). Skewers were used to secure the carcass onto the spit-shaft, so that meat and spit rotated together, guaranteeing an even cooking on all sides. This was highly desirable as Dean Swift in his ‘Receipt to Roast Mutton’ makes clear: ‘Let the jack go swiftly round, Let me have it nicely browned’.

England, c.1770

Wrought iron and brass

Private collection

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