Tiny skewers

What was this used for? - PHOTO REQUIRED
paulh
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Location: Cheshire, England

Tiny skewers

Postby paulh » Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:40 am

Image

I have seen large skewers, small skewers and normal sized skewers, but I have never seen any this small before.

They seem too small to be of any use. If they are to be used for the normal use of skewers, i.e to transfer heat into the centre of meat, they could only be used on something tiny like a sparrow or dormouse, which are so small that they would not really need this.

Has anyone any ideas?

Paul.

silverly
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Re: Tiny skewers

Postby silverly » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:49 am

From the little I can gather about these, they may be game skewers. Apparently skewers were once made in sized sets, so these may be part of something like that. I'm sure there'll be some better information to follow.

rat-tail
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Re: Tiny skewers

Postby rat-tail » Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:38 pm

Hi Paul - interesting items.
One off the wall suggestion. Would they not have been a Victorian tool for eating corn on the cob. Although I am sure the Victorians would have frowned a little at such a mundane American (and South African) "delicacy".
Alternatively maybe not so much a skewer but something to seal up the stuffed openings of small game birds.
Or something to hold or stabilise something while you're cutting it - but can't think what. Cheese, fruit, terrines, loaf sugar - surely not. A carving fork would be more logical for meat.
Regards Frank

Qrt.S
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Re: Tiny skewers

Postby Qrt.S » Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:40 pm

I might have difficulties in explaining what it possibly is. My wife saw it and insisted on that it is an kind of a knife with which you cut small holes in the fabric when you sew a tablecloth or similar and embroidering figures on it. Look at the photo. The holes are made with the "cutter". Alternatively it is a button hole cutter.
Image

dognose
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Re: Tiny skewers

Postby dognose » Fri Mar 09, 2012 2:12 pm

Just another thought:

To Roast a Quail
Time, about twenty minutes.

360. Quails; a little gravy; vine leaves; and bacon.

Pick, draw, and truss the birds. Cover the breasts with a slice of fat bacon and vine leaves, secured with a skewer, which can be tied to the spit. Roast them for twelve or fifteen minutes before a very brisk fire; serve them up hot with a little good gravy poured round them.


Source: Warne's Model Cookery and Housekeeping Book - Mary Jewry - 1868

Trev.

silverly
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Re: Tiny skewers

Postby silverly » Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:15 pm

Michael Clayton in his book "The Collector's Dictionary of the Silver and Gold of Great Britain and North America" forwarded by A G Grimwade, London and published by The World Publishing Company New York and Cleveland 1971 notes occasional examples of a bodkin form of skewer intended to be used as such with meat by the cook.

MCB
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Re: Tiny skewers

Postby MCB » Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:47 pm

I am grateful to the SPCFSC (see below) for the following information which, with tongue in cheek, expands on the original references made by Paulh from Cheshire and later by Dognose from somewhere else but both with the same penchant for cooking small creatures.
Introduced by the Legio II Adiutrix whilst on garrison duty at Deva Victrix (Chester) in around 79AD, dormice and sparrows were still a local delicacy in Cheshire until around 1864 but they had, by then, become scarce. They were traditionally cooked on a long thin skewer. Silver ones were assayed by Chester Assay Office either because of a centuries old law of exclusivity or because it was just down the road.
The specialised use caused a problem with the traditional Cheshire skewer which was never satisfactorily remedied. Made long and thin so that a family could roast four dormice or four sparrows to one skewer they were in constant need of re-sharpening. Well used skewers therefore became locally known as Cheshire short-but-sharps.
In around 1865 it was discovered there were more short-but-sharps than there were Cheshire dormice or sparrows. The population immediately resorted to catching starlings and bats and the yeomanry was called out to quell what appeared to be rioting by a populace armed with nets leaping around day and night. Matters came to a head when Magistrates imposed dormice and sparrows imported from Lancashire into the diet of the imprisoned rioters. These were cooked in bulk on Cheshire very long but thin skewers commandeered from Stockport epicure pie makers. The disturbances were only abated when the authorities removed the tacks (a local term for duty) from Cheshire cheese. The imprisoned rioters were transported a long way south (even further than Birmingham!) and found cheesed kangaroo much to their liking. Some say this heralded the start of the Australian barbecue.
The Cheshire short-but-sharps went completely out of normal use in around 1866. It is alleged many were bought up by the residents of affluent enclaves in the county where they continued to find a use because (it is said) these people could afford to pay the inflated price of dormice and sparrows and also had servants who could be instructed to cook the little things one per short-but-sharp.
Short-but-sharps have become rare and Cheshire long-but-thins were not manufactured after around 1867 because of the high cost of four dormice or four sparrows.
It is a little known fact that around 1868 the scarcity of dormice etc caused the Stockport epicure pie manufacturers (historically volume users of these small creatures) to resort to the extraordinary use of beef, mutton or pork cooked on Cheshire very-long-but-thins. All of the pie makers' remaining Cheshire short-but-sharps and long-but-thins were melted down as of no further use. New Cheshire very long-but-thins were cast and are still used today.
With the proceeds of the sale of metal no longer in use in skewers the Stockport epicure pie manufacturers sponsored a trophy for when the local association football team won anything. This trophy is in the form of a pie with supporting dormice rampant. The hinged lid, in the form of a crimped crust, features a finial in the form of a fleeing sparrow. The cup is engraved “In Memoriam Ad Essbess” (Latin was still in common use in Cheshire but a translation of short-but-sharp couldn't be agreed upon). Since 1868 the trophy has been on continuous display at the Stockport Pie Crust Fettlers Social Club (SPCFSC) awaiting a valid opportunity to present it to the football club.

Mike

paulh
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Re: Tiny skewers

Postby paulh » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:41 am

Mike’s account of the Stockport Pie Crust Fettlers Social Club has stirred deep, long forgotten, memories. As a native of the fair borough of Stockport I can remember, as a child, going shopping every Friday morning with my mother and grandmother. One of the essential visits was to that emporium of offal based products U.C.P. Here we purchased such delights as ox heart, black pudding, pig’s trotters, cowheel and of course the pinnacle of northern gastronomy, tripe. Being of modest means we would purchase just a few square feet of white tripe, to be eaten with vinegar and ketchup.

However, those from the more affluent areas of town would buy both white tripe and the more exotic variety, black tripe. These would be then prepared by layering the back and white tripe alternately and then rolling them together to form that epitome of Stockport cuisine, something to be seen on the best tables in the town, the Tripe Roulade. The roulade would be rolled and pinned to produce a black and white spiral affect, much to the amusement and appreciation of the honoured dinner guests. I am now leaning towards the idea that my tiny skewers may in fact be exceptionally rare examples of that long forgotten, but essential piece of northen silverware, Tripe Pins.

Now I am going to sit back and wait for some trendy celebrity chef to present us with his version of this classic dish.

Paul.

P.S. Sorry I was a day late in posting this.


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