“Fire is elemental and primitive; the most miserable situation clears up when somebody gets the fire going.” – Dorothy Hartley, Food In England 1954
The Gloucestershire hillside fields were covered with a morning frost, reflecting beautiful colors only seen when the Sun is kissing the Earth good morning and good night. The colors reminded me of a Bryan Haynes painting, you wanted to be wrapped inside those colors, to reach out and taste the beauty seen.
I was quick to rise this very frosty Sunday morning, for on Sunday mornings at the Yarleton Farm a fire must be lit early for the days feast. Sunday in oven day !
Hidden in the midst of high stone garden walls, terraced vegetable beds, and thick trellis’ of hibernating roses you’ll discover a small yurt housing the most primitive and most beautiful of all cooking tools – an earth oven. And what is most special about this oven is not the delicious foods born from its firey belly, but the people surrounding it. It was the creation of Frank’s farm tenant, Danny. A tranquil man of the world, that had spent his life leading expeditions to the remotest corners of the earth empowering those less fortunate with skills to better their lives and
communities. In his journeys he was touched by a visit to a poor district in Budapest, where he witnessed one cool hazy morning in a hidden away garden area, women quietly emerging from streets and alleys, their arms bundled with fresh dough, coming to bake their loaves. This moment in time was ingrained in him, the importance of the fire and community, the basic things in life that are the most essential. Now in his sabbatical years he wants to redevelop that basic element of community around a fire that has been lost with our evolution to a modern society. He brings focus to the four elements- earth, water, fire and air. Danny leads earth oven building weekends for families and communities, making the task an event with the group “harvesting” the materials from the land the oven will be sitting upon. A group effort that everyone has hand in building.
Frank’s oven is a beautiful example of how a simple tool can work magic with little effort. Every Sunday since its completion, Frank’s children &
grandchildren have gathered together to spend the day stoking the fire, preparing culinary delights, and feasting from laps while perched on benches around the huts interior, their feet kept warm by propping them against the ovens side walls. It was a magical day of really just simple pleasures that our everyday lives should have – laughing, sharing, learning, thinking, enjoying company of friends and strangers…and a fabulous meal for all to enjoy. I felt very privileged today to be a part of something so special.
You too can have Danny come and lead and instruct your family or community in building your own earth oven, email email@example.com