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In Northeast Thailand, a small clay stove was the answer to all your cooking needs, the back porch kitchen appliance everyone had to have. About the size of a large stock pot, it offered everything in one–an upper stove section to nurse a blaze in cheap charcoal until it was red hot, and a lower oven deck where embers dropping from the inferno above could roast such gastronomic delights as sweet potatoes or edible seeds. A trivet molded into the top and an opening for the oven came standard with all models.
A gas stove and electric fridge staffed our indoor kitchen, while the clay stove hunkered alone on the back patio unless it was cranking its heat for the daytime tasks assigned to it. Our house helper would squat next to it, applying flaming, shriveling wispy sticks to the mound of charcoal and blowing until the fire caught and held.