[Sca-cooks] ISO resources for history of cast iron cookware

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Mon Jun 13 21:35:45 PDT 2011

According to Michael Flecker, an expert on these wrecks, the most common 
cast iron cookware found in wrecks are woks and cauldrons.  Rather than 
being of Indonesian origin, the cast and wrought iron found in these wrecks 
is of Chinese origin.  The Chinese had the raw materials and technology to 
produce high quality iron that the other nations in Asia did not.

The importation of cast iron via Portugal is an interesting idea, but like 
most ideas about cast iron cookware in Europe, there is no evidence for or 
against.  In any event, such a trade would not have occurred before 1503 and 
the return of the first spice fleet from India.  The trade is more likely 
after 1513 when the first Portuguese caravelle made port in Canton.  This 
leaves roughly a 400 year gap between the introduction of cast iron 
manufacturing in Europe and the beginnings of the Portuguese oriental trade. 
I suspect that a trade in cast iron utensils did not occur because there 
were far more compact and valuable trade goods to hand.

One thought that I haven't chased down is wafer irons.  The most logical 
cookware that is easily made of cast iron and likely to survive is the wafer 
or waffle iron.  It might be interesting to find and examine some period 


> The above leads me to the idea that the Portugese, who were trading in 
> these waters in period, may well have brought such pots back. (They have 
> obvious advantages for some uses.) Thus, if any cast-iron pots were in use 
> in Europe in the 1500s, they'd probably include ones that were, and were 
> shaped like, Indonesian ones.
> ...Anybody know what Indonesian ones were shaped like?
> Yours in service to both the Societies of which I am a member-
> (Friend) Honour Horne-Jaruk, R.S.F.
> Alizaundre de Brebeuf, C.O.L. S.C.A.- AKA Una the wisewoman, or That Pict

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