BLOG LINKS on -Kitchens -Foods -Cooking Spaces

Post 635 –by Gautam Shah














FOOD PREPARATION SYSTEMS – II Kitchen and its place in the house

FOOD PREPARATION SYSTEMS – III Kitchen and evolution of its Facilities



FOOD PREPARATION SYSTEMS – VI -Kitchen Design by Fires

FOOD PREPARATION SYSTEMS – VII -Kitchen facilities and tasks






SPACE PLANNING -Developments


FOOD PREPARATION SYSTEMS – VI -Kitchen Design by Fires

Post 249 – by Gautam Shah 


Fires have literally fired the Kitchens. Along with the fire kitchens have been modified for the size, shape, configuration, siting of amenities, location within the dwelling, connections to the estate, entrance and other sections of the residence, linkage to the services, and the storage systems. At another level fire has affected cooking processes, tools and utensils, ingredients and condiments, schedules and duration of cooking activities. The energy resources or fuels have continuously evolved, reducing the labour required for the kitchen related processes. Simplified fire has been a great leveller for kitchens in dwellings of all social and economic statuses. The necessity of cooking, and for that reason the need for fire (or energy), has decreased due to several reasons, such as ready to use supplies, reduced home-based eating and smaller family sizes.


The Fire in the kitchen has become efficient at several levels, its handling methods, thermal productivity and quality of effluents. The fuel supplies are more assured and continuous. New techniques of heat or energy sources such as solar, electric and microwaves are replacing the age old fuel combustion methods.

Fuels for Cooking

The cooking fire with its illumination (and warmth in many seasons) was a fear alleviating element on dark and fearful nights. It kept predators and insects away. Even a primitive age family knew it was a wastage of fuel. Oil lamps spared lots of fuel for cooking and warming. Another attempt to save fuel was to redefine the hearth from open fire to with three-sided enclosure. Direct fire roasting or barbecue, began to replace stewing or juicy cooking on indirect low fires. Agriculture provided grains, which in whole or crushed form required different methods of cooking heat. Starch foods required very little heat for cooking.

Casa_do_OuteiroThe sources of fuel were mainly wood cut from trees, twigs and heavier stemmed grasses. Liquids like oils, lard and tallow were used for lighting lamps and for sustaining the fires. Fuel collection was need-based collection activity, but with forests moving away from settlements, it became a seasonal source. Substantial time, effort and space were devoted to manage the fuel resources.


Built hearth fire is superior to open fire, but requires converted fuels like chopped wood, broken twigs, animals’ excreta cake, briquetted coals, animal tallow and fish oils. Heat efficiency of converted fuels is slightly better, but often times the combustion poor and emissions annoying. Smokeless fire was a necessity and has taken a long time to arrive. It was first achieved in a closed chamber hearth, where gasification of fuels at a very high temperature achieved complete combustion. The raised internal temperatures of the burning chamber require better insulation, higher air input, and equally efficient ventilation. The process was perfected only during the Industrial revolution, with cast Iron stoves.



It was only in the 17 and 18th C AD. that low emission and heat efficient charcoal and briquetted mineral coals were available and replaced the firewood. Charcoal was a preferred fuel, due to its compact form and high heat efficiency. It made the firing section in the closed chamber hearth very small, allowing its better insulated design. Different forms of heat application, direct-radiant, reflected, etc. became part of the cooking art. Mineral coals that began to replace charcoals only enhanced the pollution due to presence of sulphur. Coals, however, brought about many changes in storage needs, form of cooking apparatuses and house fireplaces. Houses now needed chimneys.

Cast Iron composite stove



Post 214 – by Gautam Shah

Kitchen and its place in the house

Home, Dwelling to House the structuring of the human abode has been centred on the position of the food preparation area. The transition from a metaphoric form, the Home to the physical definition of a dwelling in spite of assimilating many other concerns has remained focussed to the food preparation area. The structured frame as a Home, at simplest level had a singular space shared by house master as well as the servants. In early European dwellings, the master and the servants shared the warm kitchen for the night. The cold climate and warmth of the hearth helped create such single space entities.


In metaphoric dwelling, the basic or minimal form of the house, like the Bedouin and Nomadic tents, the food zone in spite of the climatic shifting (indoors or outdoors) was the resolving force of living. Transit houses of Eskimos, Red Indians or Mongol, the food preparation area was commencement of the house structure.


Single room or small houses managed by the housewife herself have had well formed and well-sited food zones. The kitchen came into being with the evolution of dwelling. It had natural efficiency of connections with neighbourhoods. A kitchen was often just a slot in the time schedule and a casual space occupation, yet when it became active for breakfast, lunch, supper or dinner, it was a place for the entire family. It was a place commandeered by the hearth, food and mother.


The housewife was no longer the commandeering mother in mansions of the rich. She had a retinue of servants who prepared the food in the kitchen, bearers who brought the food to dining area, and butlers to serve the food. The multi tired arrangement pushed the kitchen to lower floors or dungeon. It kept the smoke, heat and smell and sweaty and stinky cooks dealing with food away. No one, the master or the lady, ever cared to refurbish the kitchen.


The kitchen or food zone, began to get refurbished when fancy recipes and exotic foods arrived. The first came in with wider travel across countries by the house masters, and the later through traders. Both of these factors required new kitchen technologies. The house master, who was more familiar with foreign food varieties, wanted to impress the party guests. The house master was instrumental in redefining food preparation area.

The kitchen of the individual mid-class family was a cosmos of its own. It was well-evolved space, with storage areas for foods and vessels, fuel supply, access to water, garbage disposal, drainage and work platforms. The kitchen had its own access back door for supplies and staff entry. It was a very interactive zone for people, goods, services and information. This is one of the reasons why some conservative communities had secluded kitchens, to cut-off all outer contacts. On the other hand kitchens operated by males were created as outhouse or annexe entities.


Kitchen services yard

The siting and physical form of a kitchen depends on obvious operants like climate, effluent management and storage systems, and many other ephemeral causes like taboos, customs, religious, political, economics, etc.



Post 213 – by Gautam Shah



Food preparation has been part human life. Hunting or food gathering, cleaning and apportioning the food, were clan-based activities, but exclusively conducted by men. The clan kinship or arrangement continued for other activities like, grazing the animal herds and harvesting the crops. With all the community management, the dwelling was perhaps a long community house. It sheltered families as hearth-based units. The long house also stored foods, fuels and water.


The cleaning of meat foods and apportioning them was done away from the living areas to keep off smell, filth, vultures, and other carnivorous away. This was the first systematic Food preparation process. The final processing of food into an edible product was a family-based affair. The long community house had partitioned family sections, each of which had its own hearth. Here, the woman further refined the (clan shared) raw food, and reformatted it with own fire.


The fire or the Hearth became the focus of the family identity. Oxford’s dictionary defines focus, originally a Latin word, as a domestic hearth. The hearth was not only the metaphoric focus of the family, but it came to designate the Home.

Hearth -the focus

Hearth -the focus

 The community dwelling assured food Supplies, security and safety. Fire in the hearth provided illumination, warmth and safety against predators. Family centred around the hearth, and also pursued other productive activities like clothing, furnishings, and craft related pursuits. The community dwelling was finite in size, its partitioned families into self-sustaining units. The individual dwelling began to be structured by the family, to suit its own distinctive needs. All food related activities like, storing, processing, preparation and consumption, moved to the single family dwellings.


The food preparation zone of the individualized house had many different forms depending on the technology, climate, and materials. The woman not only reigned over the food preparation zone, but controlled all the happenings in the family, by occupying the most important section of the house.

Fat and Lean kitchens

As Lewis Mumford (City in History P 12) puts it, “security, receptivity, enclosure, nurture -these functions belong to a woman, they take a structural expression in every part of the village, in the house, and the oven, the byre, the bin the cistern, the storage pit, the granary…. are woman writ large. In Egyptian hieroglyphics house or town may stand as symbols for the mother, as if to confirm the similarity of the individual and the collective nurturing function.”

The kitchen in spite of its functional importance and inevitability, was often not the focus of the house, as it was in the primitive community long house. The kitchen was smoke filled, smelly, and very warm area, could be pushed off the centre, but never out of its core importance.

Diego Velazquez An Old Woman Cooking Eggs

Diego Velazquez An Old Woman Cooking Eggs

Food Preparation System consisted of several functional entities. Storage for kitchen and family vocation have been synonymous in terms of modalities and space management. Kitchens, sustain well, if supplies of food, water and fuel, are available at a doorstep and when required. Food processing (cleaning, grinding, chopping, etc.) is another area that is both time and space relevant. Cooking has been a fire related process has its environmental issues. Food consumption, though could be a separate affair in another time-space, remains interconnected with the cooking zone.


Modern Food Preparation Zone