The Communal Oven

In some Mediterranean towns, communal "cob" ovens — primitive, domed cooking devices made of mud, clay, stucco, and straw — act as centers of social gravity where friends and family meet, greet, and eat. Last summer, a group of culinary enthusiasts gathered in a shady backyard in Napa, CA to give the traditional cooking method a try.

The case included bestselling food writer Michael Pollan ("Food Rules") who recounted the gastronomical experience in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, dubbed "The Food Issue."

The idea: "Build a single wood fire and, over the course of 30-plus hours, use it to roast, braise, bake, simmer and grill as many different dishes as possible — for lunch, dinner, breakfast and lunch again." Locally-sourced ingredients included seasonal produce, wild mushrooms, and a whole goat.

Pretty cool.

Read Pollan's piece here and check out a slide show of the feast here.

Photo: Aya Brackett/The New York Times

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