Snapshot Saturday: an unusual and holy kitchen appliance

As far as blogging goes, I’m still in Barcelona: though in reality I’m snuggled in a cosy jumper looking upwards as a grey sky turns greyer.

In Barcelona, we visited the Monasterio de Pedralbes.  It’s not actually a monastery, because no monk has ever lived there.  It’s a priory, built in 1326 by King James of Aragon for his wife Elisenda de Montcada, who wished to found a community of Poor Clares there.  Poor Clares?  These are nuns who devote themselves to a life of simplicity and prayer, and in Elisenda’s time were almost always drawn from the ranks of the aristocracy.  She herself never became a nun, but she was very real presence in the life of this community.

And what a fine place it is.  A graceful three-storied cloister surrounds a peaceful garden.  Here is a fountain, topped off with a rather cheeky looking angel.  This is where the nuns would wash their hands before dining in silence in the refectory, while devotional works were read to them from a pulpit.

But it’s the kitchen I’d like to show you.   In its day, this was a state-of-the-art workroom. Who wouldn’t like to cook at this unusual kitchen range, supervised by Saint Anthony?  Look at these fine sinks, dating from about 1520.  There are bread ovens, tiled worktops, and it was here that the simple diet of the nuns was prepared: fresh and salted fish, pulses, rice, vegetables and fruit.  Meat was reserved for festivities.

Saint Anthony’s range cooker.

 

A double drainer kitchen sink, without constant running hot water.

This is another of Barcelona’s hardly-discovered treasures.  Just a couple of school parties there, and once they’d gone, we had the place almost to ourselves.  Put this on your must-visit list too.

This post is my response to this week’s WordPress photo challenge: ‘unusual’.

 

29 thoughts on “Snapshot Saturday: an unusual and holy kitchen appliance”

  1. Barcelona is one of our favourite cities and we must get visit this monastery next time we go it looked fantastic. Good to hear positive news re Ellie. I laughed when I read your post about civilised tea in the train; I had just arrived in Birmingham for 3 day conference. I travelled steerage on Virgin – not the same experience at all!

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    1. Indeed not. I’ve just managed to wring a 50% refund out of Virgin for the late arrival of my train. Not that the cheques’s arrived yet …. AV this summer? x

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      1. Oui. 2 weeks via Sarlat la Canéda starting 2 August. We’d have liked to stay longer but I need to be back to have my say on 2 very controversial planning applications at the meeting the day after our return.

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  2. It does look like an usual kitchen. As you mentioned, the tiles are adorned with Saint Anthony and reminders of the faith that was strong around the community back in history. But sounds like it was a kitchen equipped with a lot of cooking utensils and you could prepare so many dishes there. Those are some massive kitchen sinks but I’m guessing the hard part would be getting the water in those basins to wash up 🙂

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  3. What marvellous sights! The double sink and terracotta coloured worktop look so modern and the blue of the tiles seems to have kept its colour remarkably. Is it because there isn’t much light that gets in? And the ‘angel’ intrigues me; it doesn’t look at all like a conventional angel, more like a choirboy or tweenie-maid gone to heaven early. Is that hair? Or a crown?

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  4. I’m a non-believer in terms of religion but am oddly interested in cloisters and monasteries, etc. I think the idea of a purely quiet and contemplative life intrigues me. This is a beautiful setting.

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  5. Now that is a very interesting kitchen. If that was a state of the art version looks like the Dissolution over here would have put pay to any development or survival of similar kitchens in English monasteries.

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  6. Yes indeed. I know that this particular kitchen was to an extent updated (gas burners!), essentially it was as it had been since its revamp in the sixteenth century. Sadly, the dissolution would have put paid to all that – Fountains Abbey was typical in having the roofs stripped off, so all that more domestic history has long disappeared.

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  7. Thank you Margaret; learnt two things today – Monasteries are not the same thing as Priories and that they seemed to have a very well developped ‘kitchen’… I mean in such a glorious kitchen you surely only did cook wonderful food?! 🙂
    I LOVE these kinds of posts, and I love learning stuff I didn’t know before. I was – for a choral & musical week – in Barcelona 2 yrs ago, we were blown away by the beauty and treasures in ‘everyday buildings’ etc but we shan’t go back soon because we both can’t stand the heat and noise of summer. We were in July and we had temps of 40°C and above every day. Imagine how well we sung? And the only room with an AC was small and the AC was broken the first 2 of our 8 days’ stay…. Sleeping was no option, we were dead upon arrival at home sweet home! But a wonderful, interesting & fascinating city it is and one day, maybe in November one of the coming years, we might venture out again to take in more. Loved their food, the wines, the atmosphere and the buzz of it all BUT what we need is a bit quiet, we have enough buzz in our surrounding already.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean about busy Barcelona. This is why we seek out the places not in the Tourist Top Ten, which are still so worth getting to know. We only had 30 degrees, so chilly in comparison! Lucky you, to sing there though.

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    1. Oh goodness, that’s a big question. Barcelona has got so touristy that I prefer fossicking around the back streets and seeking out those things that are not overrun, the kind of thinks I mentioned in my first two posts about Barcelona. Try Googling ‘Unknown Barcelona’ or something like that, and you’ll find lots of good ideas come up. Good luck. Enjoy your stay!

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  8. This is beautiful. I too love religious ruins and this one looks a lot like the priory at Much Wenlock. We went there last summer and I keep meaning to do a post about it. It didn’t have this gorgeous range though.

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