We are delighted to have Gill Meller come over to the cookery school this Summer. Gill teaches regularly at River Cottage HQ in southern England and is the author of several books about cooking with fire. Gill explains why it is so wonderful to work with fire.
Once upon a time, everyone lit fires to cook their food. In some parts of the world this is still a daily happening. Fires are lit at dawn and their heat is used throughout the day and late into the night. Some of these fires may never go out. Where I live, in England, this interaction with the timeless element of fire is a far less regular occurrence. And I think we are poorer for it.
I am in no way against progress; times changing or societal changes, but in our digital age, things have changed beyond all recognition. Our woods have been replaced by concrete jungles. Our tools are now screens and computers, rather than axes. Our food is from factories - and our fires (of industry), for the most part, are ethically questionable on just about every level. We’re completely disconnected from our past and from the land we have always lived on; and by losing our link with fire, we are in some ways disempowered and de-skilled.
One way to turn this around is to keep our old crafts and traditions alive, since so many of them are interwoven with fire and flame. Blacksmiths, charcoal-burners, woodsmen, artisan bakers, potters and glass-blowers all help us to re-forge a connection to our ancestors and to the rural past. I have huge respect for these craftspeople and I think it’s vitally important that we support them in the same way we do our small independent shops, food producers, farmers and fishermen. It means the next generation will be able to benefit from their knowledge and skill and enjoy the things they make.
But you don’t have to be an artisan to tap into the ancient skills that are entwined with fire. Any cook can light a fire and find themselves drawn a little closer to a more natural, resourceful, self-sufficient way of life. That’s why my favourite way to cook outside will always be the simplest way: over a wood fire on the ground. The attraction for me is in the little things: singed grass, steam from the earth, the crackle and whistle of twigs, the pop of stone, the dance of flame, the smoke around my body, the way the fire calls to me and the way I instinctively respond.
Come and join Gill and the Cookery School team for a morning of cooking over fire followed by a delicious lunch.
Things we will do..
Gill will discuss how to construct an earth oven and cook our lunch in it. Construct a simple spit to suspend meat and cooking pots over.
Learn how to cook fish and shellfish and how to use to clay to bake food in.
We will look at a host of traditional and ancient approaches and techniques to open fire cookery, taking influences from around the world.
The aim of the day is to give everyone the confidence to try something new at home over there own fires or barbecues and to dispel the illusion that outdoor cookery is difficult or beyond you, and to encourage people to embrace open fire cooking with a rekindled enthusiasm and a reignited gusto.
Please note gallery is a selection of images but may not represent actual dishes featured on the course.