COOKING and DINING

Post 362 – by Gautam Shah

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Kitchen and Dining adjacency

Kitchen and Dining adjacency

Cooking and Dining, have been conjunct areas. Dining is intimately related to the food preparation activity. Dining area has been shifting close and away from cooking area. The reasons are due to environmental, ethnic, social, religious, organizational and technological reasons. Cooking and dining, originally flourished, in the same space segment; separated in the middle ages, and once again merged during the last century. The dining, however, is now poised to supersede the kitchen or cooking. Dining itself may become a food ‘preparation’ area.

Modern Design Residential Counter Kitchen Interior

The Kitchen-dining, have had varied proximity mainly due to the environmental factors. Cooking areas in all climate zones were untidy and uncomfortable due to heat, smoke, and soot, all due to poor quality fuels. To compound these odours of food preparation and garbage, were not easily manageable. In tropics it was possible to prepare food in open or semi-open spaces, but in colder climates environmental control was dependent on chimneys or roof holes. Natural illumination was another concern in absence of glazed openings. Cooking and dining, still remained adjunct to each other in all climate zones. In smaller dwellings, both remained in the same space, but in large mansions the retinue of servants mediated the separation.

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Johann Heinrich Sturmer Kochin Wikipedia image

The dining area has had many different forms, depending on the nature of food, schedules, moods, companionship, sex, age and social standing of the diners, ambiance of space, and other engagements. Dining consists of morning tea, breakfast, lunch, brunch, afternoon tea and snacks, supper or evening meals, or late night caps. These are taken in different sections of the house. The settings for food consumption ranges from a stiff dining table to an informal verandah, nurseries, terraces, home garden, to very intimate one in bed.

Small kitchen

Small kitchen

Small houses due to space restraints may combine food preparation, cooking and dining to same section of the space and share the amenities. Urban families stay in smaller houses where dining is more of the functional need without any scope for social interaction. The busy life styles, (working husband and wife, other adults) does not permit extensive cooking at home, or have frequent dinner guests. A bar platform, once an intervening element between the kitchen and dining or the extension of a pantry, meant for brunch and fast-track meal; now began to replace the formal dining space and table. The functional bar like a platform with tall stools, allows one to have a quick-bite in a standing or semi-siting position. Such small dwellings and single person units do away with the formal dining table or a designated space.

Kitchen and dining

Kitchen store room

Indian Kitchen Pantry + Store Room

The kitchen and dining were once separated through a pantry. The pantry and store rooms began to be useless for several reasons, 24×7 hours assured supplies, smaller size of family and less frequent partying at home. The kitchen-dining also began to be connected through a door, often double leaf glass doors. The kitchen-dining connection was further dilated with removal of the mid-barriers. An exclusive kitchen conceded the living room (family room) to the drawing room, but a living room, well integrated with the kitchen, allowed the drawing room to exist on its own -a secluded space.

Kitchen – Dining – Family room –as one space

Dining room is merging into the kitchen for other reasons. For husband and wife as a working couple find the combined kitchen and dining with better chance of communication, for being together, and enjoy the soap operas.

Kitchen - Dining connection --double leaf glass doors

Kitchen – Dining connection –double leaf glass doors

Food preparation cooking, serving, and dining, were all well delineated in terms of the purpose, place and space. But these have been changing. Modern homes subsist on pre-cooked, preserved, ready packaged foods. These require warming in a microwave and the serviettes, dishes, bowls, tableware, are disposable. The working person has lunch at the workplace, and dinner in a restaurant. The kitchen and dining are deprived of their core functions.

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FOOD PREPARATION SYSTEMS – V (Kitchen Fire)

Post 223 – by Gautam Shah

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Fire has been difficult to initiate, maintain, contain, handle and extinguish. A secure fire helps the process of domestication, just as sharing of food with the family was beginning of a home. Fire is a hazard but if controlled can provide warmth, light and security. It needs to be shielded from rain and wind. Fire is a change causing element in every aspect of living.

Hearth in Pompei

Hearth in Pompei Wikipedia Image by Jebulon 

Fire can be sustained mainly with a built form and supply of combustible materials. Fire, however needs several handling technologies, such as:

  • Fuel sizing, storage and charging,
  • Ignition,
  • Aeration methods,
  • Holding tools,
  • Shielding and Insulation,
  • Heat distribution,
  • Emissions, odours and solid residues,
  • Fire enclosures like hearths,
  • Pots and vessels, supports, 10. Fire dousing tools.

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Gold Smelting Egypt

Gold Smelting Egypt

Collection of combustible materials was volumetrically very large, and sometimes even more difficult then procuring the foods. Fire fuels needed size reduction for transport, and storage for an entire season. A housed fire, however, fostered many other activities besides cooking. It was used for illumination, warmth, farm, craft and industrial conversion processes. Many technological innovations were supported by such a large scale need for fire. The main thrust areas were efficient fuels and effective ways of using them. Fuels must be dry, compact, easy to size and store, smoke free and with high thermal efficiency. Effective ways of handling fire included using fire for heat conduction, convection, radiation, latent heat of materials and the residual heat in emissions.

Wall Hearth

Open fires were dangerous and problematic, but men could not do without it. The first efficiency was achieved by arranging the fire inside a walled chamber, the hearth. A hearth allowed controlled rate of combustion, protection from random sparks and limited effects of radiation. The hearth was multi-purpose entity, and allowed use of converted fuels like chopped wood, broken twigs, animals’ excreta cakes, briquetted coals, and liquid fuels like lard, tallow and oils. These fuels had smaller mass, better storage system, and greater heat efficiency.

Free Hearth

Free Hearth

Smoke and soot were problems that were tackled by locating the hearth in appropriate place. Many fire-related lessons were learnt from craft and industrial processes like pottery firing, metal smelting, shaping and forging, farm produce dehydration and baking, sintering of minerals, lamps for illumination, etc. Metal smelting taught how to achieve high temperatures, whereas dehydration and smoking (of meats) helped on how to maintain low temperatures for longer period. First attempts to reduce the temperature involved distancing the pot or food from fire. Hearth design micro improvisations (learnt from ceramics firing) taught how to control air supply to the fire.

Hung pots distancing to control heat

Hung pots distancing to control heat

The local fuels, their quality and quantity, both affected the nature of food recipes. Different forms of direct-radiant, and indirect-reflected, heat applications created processes of simmering, stewing, boiling, smoking, charring, barbecuing, baking, roasting, etc. The hearths began to take different forms depending on the type of fuel available.

Wall Hearth with various forms of Heat input

Wall Hearth with various forms of Heat input

In colder climates the hearth was a warming fireplace. It became part of an alcove or a niche in the wall. The hearths were bulky to retain heat within the mass of body and use their delayed throw back of heat (re-radiation). Cooking procedures were long lasting (Stew-preparations), and dining close to the hearth. In warmer climates hearths were a source of heat and discomfort. Hearths as a result are placed in the corner of a room or outside of it. Hearths are thin bodied and to allow faster cooling after cooking. Cooking procedures involving use of fires are short and requiring lesser intervention. All non fire cooking procedures are conducted elsewhere, away from the hearth. Food preparation activities occur in other parts of the dwelling.

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