Wonderful food, a warm welcome and a beautiful location.

The Simple Art of Being Cozy

[This is one in a series of blog posts written by Charlotte the Intern.  Tune in daily to find out about what she’s been up to, what she has been learning about, and all of the crazy things she does as part of the Manna from Devon team.]

It is a Sunday evening at Manna from Devon, and I’m perched on the window seat trying to decide what to write about for today’s blog post.  Earlier today I participated in Day 2 of David and Holly’s 2-day wood-fired oven course.  This time we learned about using the oven with the fire “out”, meaning that we lit a huge fire in the morning, let it rage for a couple of hours, and then took the whole thing out, using the heat that the oven had stored during those first two hours for the rest of the day.  We learned that the oven holds its heat so well that it is possible to use a “falling oven” for hours, to bake several batches of bread, buns, and cakes, or to do a beautiful braise of pork belly or leg of lamb (we did both for our lunch).

Now, as I sit here with a big cup of milky tea and a warm Chelsea bun fresh from the wood-fired oven, watching the sea mist roll in up the River Dart, I can’t help but think of something I first learned about just over a month ago, hundreds of miles away from here: the Danish concept of “hygge”.  Hygge (pronouced hoo-guh) is difficult to explain.  In fact, I probably don’t totally understand it myself, but it sort of roughly translates to “coziness” and all that that implies: warmth, cheer, good friends, light spirits, lots of laughter, lots of fun.  Presumably, the Danes value this type of atmosphere because of their long, dark winters, when it made most sense to stay inside, surrounded by people and candles and pots full of warm food to tuck into (incidentally, you don’t have to be inside to enjoy hygge as it is primarily used in the social sense…according to sources, food festivals are very hygge!).  Now, even though our houses are climate controlled and we can get any kind of produce we want at any time of year, I still find that I instinctively gravitate toward that cozy type of setting as the days become more brisk and the sun sets earlier and earlier.  I am not Danish, by nationality or by heritage, but I can certainly identify with hygge.

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We can’t even see Dartmouth on the other side of the river with this mist!

And then I realized, the type of cooking that we did today epitomizes all of those things.  Baking and braising in a wood-fired oven is hygge, and eating a late Sunday lunch of crispy pork belly with roasted carrots and potatoes is hygge.  Sitting around a big wooden table with friends is hygge.  Baking loaves and loaves of bread is definitely hygge.  I am living in the English epicenter of hygge!

This may seem like a rather abstract subject for a blog post, but I think it’s important to take time to remember the value of those little things that can’t be quantified, like doing things more slowly, baking your own bread, or just sitting in a window with some tea, enjoying the view.

Happy Sunday everyone!  Make sure you take time to indulge in some “hygge” today.

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Warm, sticky buns are totally hygge.

 

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