The ovens demonstrated here are based on designs from the Jewish Moroccan community in Israel. They were built at the Jewish Moroccan Museum and Archive for Living Culture at Moshav Sedot Micah, a village in the center of Israel. There is a profound way in which these ovens are traditional constructions. The ovens are built on the ground, but with the ground elevated so that one doesn’t have to sit on the ground to operate the oven. The same effect could be achieved by excavating a place to stand or sit in front of the oven which was a common system for military ovens in field kitchens.
The oven is built over a pile of manure and straw is used to separate the manure layer from the mud. The mud is made up of sand, soil, and a little concrete, so this is a concrete/earth construction material similar to the material called for the Sunset Magazine’s Adobe oven (which is three parts soil and 1 part portland cement). The use of a small amount of portland cement greatly simplifies the mixing of the mud as it virtually eliminates the need for any skill in preparing the soil (clay) mix.
These ovens are not insulated. That are designed for making breads with a fire going in the oven which is also why the door opening is much larger than in a conventional European domed oven.
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I just discovered your video on youtube and was reminded that I gave away my precious book, The Magic of Fire, to an old friend a couple of years ago. I only hope he loved it as much as I did (he’s since passed on) and I remember how much I connected to the spirit within the book. I’m a vegetarian and there are so many ways to use fire cooking vegetables, bread, etc. I would love to know where I can find some of the fireplace tools you use, like the pan for frying eggs. Is someone still making these? I am cooking in my fireplace now that the weather is colder (I live in Carmel Valley, CA) and I owe a lot of my enthusiasm to you. Thank you!!!