“Communal table: A 36 Hour Dinner Party”
The NY Times Magazine recently published this article by Michael Pollan about a 36 hour dinner party cooked in a mud oven. Best, for me, was how he explained the purpose of the oven:
The idea is to make the most efficient use of precious firewood and to keep the heat (and the danger) of the cook fire some distance from everybodyâ€™s homes. But what appeals to me about the tradition is how the communal oven also becomes a focus for social life (â€œfocusâ€ is Latin for â€œhearthâ€), a place to gather and gossip and escape the solitude of cooking at home. Shared meals have always been about community, about what happens among family and friends â€” even enemies â€” when they gather around a table to eat; but once upon a time, before every family had its own kitchen in which Mom labored more or less alone, cooking was itself a social activity, one that fostered community and conversation around the chopping board or cook fire long before the meal was served.