Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kitchen Houses

In early Amana there was the kitchen house system, a unitary dining where 16-50 people ate at one seating. There were 52 separate kitchen houses in the 7 villages as private homes did not have a kitchen or dining room before 1932. The kitchen houses, now restaurants, homes, or businesses, were large and open, extending the depth of the building. Each one had the usual amenities for cooking and every convenience for cutting up food. The special feature was the long, low brick stove with its iron plate top built along one side of the room. There was a tall tin sheet backing that held straining utensils. Huge copper boilers and kettles sat on the stove top. A modern stove was added later on for heat, drying, and baking. Each kitchen had a kitchen boss appointed by the Elders of the church. The kitchen was named after her so she took great pride in its well being. She was assisted by younger women and a hired man who cared for the kitchen garden and did canning and drying of the produce, all very healthy food. As women did most of the work, they would rotate with 2 weeks on and one week off, with work carefully allotted. Village dairy, ice, bakery, and butcher items were delivered daily. It has been said that " the most drastic social uprooting that took place in the transition from old to new Amana was the abandonment of the community kitchen houses, where for so long the members had come together not only to eat but to pray."

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