Roll, Crush, Whack

An Everywoman’s Rolling Pin from Lake Tabourie

In a kitchen on the NSW South Coast, probably in the early twentieth century, a woman used this rolling pin almost daily for making her family’s meals.

Before pastry, scones, and biscuits could be bought ready-made in supermarkets, the kneading and flattening of dough with a rolling pin was an everyday ritual in most kitchens. Beyond that, in an era without the gadgets and electric appliances of today, people improvised with the tools they had. Between 1900 and the 1930s, the South Coast newspapers certainly suggested plenty of alternate uses for rolling pins.

Need breadcrumbs, crushed nuts, tender meat, or ice cubes? Whack them with the end of your rolling pin. While sewing or ironing, use it to flatten your seams. Got sore muscles? Massage them with your rolling pin. Hey, while you’re at it, why not wave it at your pets to chase them out of the kitchen? Better yet, give it to the kids to use as a cricket bat!

While it is possible to find the many unexpected ways this simple rolling pin may have been used a century ago, it is the woman behind it who is harder to pin down. Now this object carries memories of past culinary traditions and skills, the joy created by the food it prepared, and the more creative uses they found for it along the way.