The Books.

This list of books from Brunyfire’s own library is intended to compliment the information about the pots in the collection that are now housed in Brunyfire’s recently renovated home in the burbs. This is where the entire collection is now housed, and from whence the stories will continue to emerge. Much like cookbooks, there is a plethora of books and magazines devoted to ceramics as a whole, but not so many dedicated to traditional clay cooking pots. The following are just a few:

Josie Walter introduces historical earthenware cooking equipment, circa 3500 B.C., then explores the history of functional cooking pots and contemporary studio potters dedicated to producing and using, practical pottery tableware in everyday life.  Of particular interest to me is her knowledge of the pottery of Chesterfield, Derbyshire, husband John’s hometown.  There is also a ‘how to’ section which I think detracts from the main text and the emphasis of the book.

For the past 300 years traditional folk pottery in Southeast Asia has changed very little. Simple and practical earthenware pottery has been produced by small family groups using the traditional hand techniques passed down over several generations. This book offers a broad survey of the ceramic craftspeople of Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar (Burma). A rich and fascinating documentation of practical and functional clay cooking pots.

This fabulous book about the earthenware vessels produced by the women of Lombok in Indonesia by Jean McKinnon celebrates the role of women who are keeping alive their traditional craft making skills.  McKinnon takes a holistic approach to her subject that reflects the people and the culture through its pottery and their functions.  McKinnon reveals how water and soil combine to make the clay that becomes the vessel that holds water and rice – life’s symbols.

Luminous golden and sparkling black pottery fashioned from mica-rich clays is the subject of this first comprehensive study of micaceous pottery in New Mexico. With over 60 color photographs, All That Glitters explores an exciting comtemporary art form as it evolved from the traditional culinary ware made by Pueblo and Jicarilla Apache Indians of the Northern Rio Grande region for at least 500 years. Personally prefer the contemporary cook pots.

Japanese cooking, it is often said, is to be eaten with the eyes. Often the compelling nature of the food arrangements that is experienced over a traditional meal can overshadow the taste of the food. This book beautifully illustrates in detail the aesthetics of Japanese food presentation and how both food and pots reflect the seasons.  Historical and contemporary pieces are happily married together through seasonal foods to illustrate and explore the cycles of nature.

8 years fieldwork by Margaret Tuckson and Patricia May with  first-hand accounts of clay preparation, pottery formation and firing techniques, plus accounts of the pottery’s function and the various approaches to decoration are researched. Personal observation and photographs plus research from private/public collections throughout the world are featured.  Many traditional cooking pots are shown.

Pottery has a long history in India. Over the centuries pots have been used for domestic ware, votive pieces and for architecture as well as for many daily and special rituals. Each area of the country is known for its different styles, decorations and ways of making. In this book, Jane Perryman not only looks at Indian pottery but also at the communities who make it, their organization, history and philosophy.

The next group comprises of those books that explore the use of open hearth cooking – from campfires to wood ovens – and the nature of different woods that give the best heat.

The Magic of Fire by William Rubel (sadly no longer in print) deals with cooking on an indoor fireplace.  Illustrated rather than photographed (a bit too cutesy for my liking), there are several clay pot recipes – in particular, the Italian method of bread making between tigelle – terracotta discs.   Check out Rubel’s website which covers a diverse range of fire related cooking topics, including a section on wood-fired ovens.

Jack and Reg Absalom, uncle and nephew, explore the possibilities of creative cooking over a campfire with a camp or Dutch oven. Using ingredients found to hand on the trail and from the bush around them, they rustle up a lot of traditional dishes with wild goat, kangaroo, yabbies, quandongs (wild peaches). Favourites include Spotted Dick and Treacle pudding with custard – all delivered with plenty of bush wit and wisdom.

Al Brown is a well known Kiwi chef with a love of the outdoors, and particularly for cooking on an open fire.  In his new book, Stoked: Cooking with Fire Brown forages and fishes in the New Zealands glorious environment.  Of particular interest is the section on the various woods he uses for the specific flavours it imparts to the food. A fabulous new book to my collection.

From roasts to rissoles, salads to savouries, dampers to deserts, ABC explores camp cooking on an open fire. Easy recipes, planned for simplicity and good eating, using basic ingredients – and all road tested by the authors in the great outdoors. ABC discusses different types of bush cooking gear, advice on menu planning and hints on building the right type of cooking fire. There’s even sage advice on how to brew up a great cup of billy tea!

Recipes that push the boundaries of live-fire cuisine that introduces the incendiary dishes of South America’s biggest culinary star, Chef Francis Mallmann. Born in Patagonia, trained in France’s top restaurants—abandoned fussy fine dining scene for the elemental experience of cooking with fire. Evocative photographs showcase Mallmann’s home turf in Patagonia, Buenos Aires, and rural Uruguay.

Wood-Fired Cooking: Techniques & Recipes for the Grill, Backyard Oven, Fireplace and Campfire by Mary Karlin.  A thorough and no nonsense approach to cooking with fire in a controlled manner.  Whilst not specific to clay pot cooking alone, it provides some terrific recipes for open hearth cooking.  Karlin’s writing style reflects her role as a teacher.  Check out her website.

The final group of books are cookbooks that feature recipes for use with clay pots.

The Taste of Colombia by Benjamin Villegas.  A fabulous book featuring the black ware of La Chamba.  This beautiful book illustrates really well the connection between the cooking pots (unique to this region), the produce, the seasons and the locality.

Clay Pot Cooking: Traditional and Modern Recipes to Savor and Share by Paula Wolfert.  At first, a bit of a disappointment in that there are very few images of the clay pots that Wolfert uses in this book.  However, she does talk about them, and her recipes do  help to highlight the cultural connections between place and produce.

Oaxaca al Gusto: An Infinite Gastronomy by Diana Kennedy.  A fabulously gutsy book by a fabulously gutsy ex-pat Brit who has lived in Mexico since 1957.  She has spent the past 45 years traveling through Mexico researching cooking techniques and the history of Mexican cooking.  This book gives a tantalising glimpse into the clay cooking pots used in traditional Mexican cuisine.

serendip-cover_hr2-877x1024The book that inspired Brunyfire’s trip to Sri Lanka, October, 2013.  Influenced by his family cooking traditions and his love of Sri Lanka, the recipes in Kuravita’s book is part memoir in that it reflects his growing up in the country his father was born in, where he spent his formative years and where he learned to cook from the women in his family.

9789551266745-01Written by a couple of dedicated cooks rather than professional chefs, this book reveals some authentic dishes, using the exotic ingredients of the ‘Spice Island’ in reflecting some of the regional dishes from around the island. What makes it more exciting is the claim that cooking in the traditional clay pots over an open fire adds an extra dimension of flavour to the finished dish.

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