Many people think that roasting in front of an open fire was a primitive and dirty cooking method. On the contrary it was frequently a highly controlled and sophisticated procedure with advanced technology and its own remarkable cuisine.

Roast Beef

Despite all the dramatic changes in our diet, we continue to regard the traditional Sunday roast as a British icon. However, real roast meat has almost entirely disappeared from the British repertoire of dishes. The dish we today call a ‘roast' is in fact baked in an oven and is very different in character to the roast meat that would have excited our ancestors appetite. To be truly roasted, meat must be cooked on a spit in the radiant heat of an open fire. Perhaps the closest we get today is the charcoal barbeque, but with the increasing use of gas barbeques even this is becoming a rarity.
Standing Toaster
This standing toaster would have been perfect in a small chamber
with a modestly sized fire, such as a student's lodgings. It could be adjusted both horizontally and vertically. The multi-pronged fork could be swung back to remove the meat for turning with a pair of steak tongs.

Standing Trivet Toaster
A standing toaster with its trivet and dripping pan. There were many types of 'toasters' used for cooking meat, fish, bacon and other small items in front of the fire. Some clipped onto the grate and were known as 'fire-bar toasters', others had legs like those above and were therefore called 'standing toasters'.
Leg Of Lamb
A leg of mutton with oysters roasts in front of the range

Roasted Pig
Roasted Lobster
Balancing the spit - the pairs of rabbits and lobsters above are locked together in a last embrace in order to distribute their weight evenly on either side of the spit. When running a spit from a weight driven clockwork jack, it is essential to ensure that the joint or bird is properly centred, or the spit may stop running.

Larded Pheasant
This larded pheasant, secured to a spit with wooden skewers, is being basted with a pierced ladle. The small perforations filter out any pieces of ash that may have found their way into the dripping pan. Some dripping pans were provided with a special perforated and lidded well that fulfilled a similar function.
Fillet Of Beef
A fillet of beef gently roasts in its jacket of paper.
Fillet Of Beef
A joint of beef starting at the fire with a heat shield of paper to protect the fat