March 2013

Strike-a-lights, flints and tinders: which historical sources?

This is a guest piece by Andrea Carloni

When talking about lighting a fire, especially for domestic use, modern man automatically thinks of matches and lighters, because collective memory actually ignores that, for thousands of years and at least up to the end of 19th century, this task had been invariably performed through strike-a-lights, flints and tinders. The longevity of this outdated custom is confirmed by many historical literature quotes, even from worldwide known works, such as I Promessi Sposi by Alessandro Manzoni (1842) which reads in a passage: «...cava fuori esca, pietra, acciarino e zolfanelli ed accende un suo lanternino» (transl. «...takes out tinder, flint, strike-a-light and sulfur sticks and lights up his little lantern»).

To make a bread oven

Since a quite long time from now, Alain-Gilles started to turn his mind around bread. Generally in the castles we go, when it's possible, he uses the kitchen oven. Unfortunately lot's of them have been modified for modern reasons and don't give us an optimal medieval way for cooking bread. Sometimes ovens are too small, sometimes they have a modern extraction for the smoke.