Saturday, August 30, 2008

Il Forno

"Forno" in italian means "oven." But, besides being an appliance in a modern kitchen, in southern Italy it is also a place and a tradition. The Forno is a sort of shop where you bring your dishes to be baked in a giant, wood-burning oven by the "baker." He is not a baker in any sense of what we associate with that word in English. His job is to stoke the fire and bake to perfection the dishes his clients bring in. What you see in the center here are "taralli" a pretzel-like snack.

This is the Forno of Arturo Petrone. In this photo you can see the tools of his trade. A large pile of wood to the right, and his many long-handled paddles for putting the dishes in and getting them back out of the oven. The opening to the oven makes it seem small but it is actually enormous inside.

9 comments:

alaya said...

so interesting :)

Knoxville Girl said...

Fascinating - what kind of clients use his services? People who need a big oven at certain times?
Your last sentence makes me nervous in a Hansel-and Gretel way. I'll keep my distance.

Saretta said...

Actually just regular people use the oven service. It's not necessarily about the size of what you want baked, but the flavor that results from being cooked in a woodburning oven. Although, if you have a really big tray of something (like the taralli in the photo) obviously the Forno is your best bet!

Saretta said...

Knoxville Girl...in a Hansel and Gretel kind of way? LOL! :-)))

USelaine said...

I agree, it's fascinating! I've seen Italian style brick ovens in a few places, but I had no idea such a community process/resource existed. It saves fuel, and keeps all those other kitchens from heating up in summer.

I'm not worried KG; they'd never be able to squeeze me in.

PJ said...

Where do I sign up? Do they FedEx? It's just not fair that everything looks rustic and scrumptious. Americans want everything gleaming and hermetically sealed. I think I was born on the wrong continent.

Hilda said...

A community oven, and wood-burning too — what a fantastic idea! That is so practical. Now I'm trying to think of who I can convince to set up a forno here, and where…

silvio said...

I taralli mi hanno fatto subito venir fame ed una grande nostalgia. Pensa che quel forno era quello dove d'estate, verso le 7 di mattina, mia madre mi mandava e infornare la focaccia al 'primo forno' (chiedi a Francesco se ancora non sai). Quel sapore e' unico al mondo. E io di cucina un po' me ne intendo. Quelle mattine estive che preludono un gran caldo rimarranno per sempre nella mia memoria, associate ad un sapore, ad un luogo e all'odore di origano. Queste memorie hanno il pregio di pulire Molfetta da tutti i suoi aspetti negativi e percio' richiamano solo sensazioni piacevoli. Fatti un ultimo bagno anche per noi. A presto.

Saretta said...

Silvio - sono contenta di averti riportato ai bei ricordi legati a Molfetta e la tua infanzia. Grazie per avermelo raccontato!