2020 and 2021 have been unprecedented years for all of us across the planet and not just our woodfired pizza oven team here in Preston. Coronavirus lockdown is having impacts on the way we live, think and work. The pressures of social isolation are topics for open discussion.
Here at Orchard Ovens, we have seen a surge in interest in our woodfired pizza ovens since the UK coronavirus lockdowns were announced. People are looking for things to do to fill their time whilst being confined to their homes & gardens and also seeking new skills. However, we doubt that many have pondered whether cooking with wood in a garden oven could also improve their mental health.
1. Cookery of all types requires planning and attention to detail, whether you are measuring out ingredients or following a recipe. This again requires concentration, which can remove you from negative situations. When you add to this the need to work out quantities of wood required to keep the oven operating to the desired temperature, there’s a lot of beneficial concentration to be
2. If using a wood fired oven for what is often considered its core function – making pizza – you need to either knead or just hand stretch dough, a process that has been viewed as therapeutic for many years. Did you know that the 2012 winner of the Great British Bake Off had suffered from manic depression for years and stabilised his mood through baking?
3. Cooking with a real flame takes some mastering, which is why it can really boost your self-esteem when you manage to create your first pizza, or your succulent lamb shanks in red wine, or whatever it is you have been able to cook in your wood-fired oven. That self-esteem is vital to good mental health.
4. Whilst we have no definitive medical research to say that a wood-fired oven could assist its owner’s mental health, we have a gut feeling that it should, given all the studies that have been conducted into the mental health benefits of culinary activity and outdoor living. Here is our pitch for why we think an outdoor pizza oven can be an asset in this regard, particularly during UK lockdown.
5. Wood-fired cookery is often a shared experience, through which you are feeding others. A sense of reward can be derived from putting something on the table for others to eat, especially when it is through a new technique and style of cooking. It develops notions of giving and helpfulness. Your audience will be grateful and appreciative of the effort and the new experience and this in turn leads to a boost in your own confidence and motivation.
6. Lighting a wood fired oven, nurturing the flame, moving wood and coals around and feeding the fire to the right degree, all require a lot of mindfulness and focus on the task in hand. This sort of focus is well documented as being a way to quell negative thoughts and escape life’s difficulties.