“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 everybody’s homes. But what appeals to me about the tradition is how the communal oven also becomes a focus for social life (“focus” is Latin for “hearth”), 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.