Cooking in Clay:

A Worldwide Heritage

My flameware is a modern adaptation. Ever since the discovery that fire could harden clay, people from nearly all cultures around the world have made clay vessels to cook, store and transport food.

The conjecture of anthropologists is that primitive cultures discovered clay could be formed into temporary utilitarian forms for holding water or food to be warmed by a fire; eventually some of these simple ceramics — by accident — were vitrified by the high temperatures of the coals of a fire. Once noticed and perfected, the tradition of pottery was born. Much of our earliest pottery focused on utilitarian forms for use with food.

The heritage of pottery forms reflects diverse traditions, but they share much in common.  Almost all cultures eventully found that common earthenware clays containing mica, sand and/or other materials that made the fired clay more resistant to thermal shock allowed them to create an inexpensive and convenient vessel for cooking food.

Cooking pottery was made from micaceous earthenware all around the Mediterranean, up through Turkey and into Bulgaria, in South America, parts of Mexico, parts of Africa and India. The traditional pottery cookware of Southeast Asia, such as Japan, China, Korea, Vietnam, etc. more often than not was a form of “sandware” — sometimes with an admixture of micaceous earth. Many of these pots, both earthenware and sandware, were originally unglazed. Gradually, many were glazed on the inside.

There are wonderful theoretical arguments among cooking fanatics about what effect cooking in unglazed clay may have on flavor, but most critics agree that in reality, with use, unglazed earthenware is quickly sealed by oils from cooking and loses any effect on flavor. But because clay gains temperature slowly and retains heat for a long time, there is little argument that the results of cooking in clay, whether glazed or not, is usually delicious!  

Each of these different cultures have very old and rich cooking traditions in clay, with wonderful recipes.

I plan to be adding more heritage pages.  I hope to give you a flavor (pun intended) of these many wonderful, ancient worldwide traditions of cooking in clay. As a start look at the pottery village video below from Turkey and the other eclectic links from around the world further below:

Here is the new quarterly magazine “Craftmanship” with a really good article on the challenges and pressures indigenous crafts face:

The Japanese Food Report: “Iga Donabe Maker”

Morrocan Traditional Pottery Workshop at Tamgroute Making Tagines (Video)

Cooking With Dog: Oyster and Pork KimchiNabe (Korean-inspired Hot Pot Recipe)

The Micaceous Clay Pottery of Felipe Ortega (Potter in New Mexico)

Another Contemporary Flameware Potter mostly Ram Pressed. Several years ago started using a similar domain name to my 14 year old domain. Nice work, check it out their domain is:

Sutalam Suvaikalam-Unique Mud Pot Kitchen-Trichy Special 3/3 | Tamil