A Brief History of the Ceramic Cooker
Cooking meat over an open fire is the oldest and most primitive form of cooking. It has survived many thousands of years and many of us regularly enjoy the flavor and texture of foods cooked over hot charcoal. Over the centuries, many cultures developed ceramic cookers of various types, but they all have similar characteristics which allow for even controlled heat, fuel efficiency, and exceptional flavor. The ancient japanese mushikamado (“rice cooker”) and the traditional Indian tandoor oven are examples of this simple, timeless design. It is believed that the kamado was introduced to Japan from mainland China during the Kofun period (300-538 A.D.)
After World War II, thousands of American soldiers rediscovered these traditional cookers while serving in Japan. Thousands were brought home by enamored GIs and the West was introduced to these wonderful cookers. Soon, a couple American companies began manufacturing and selling kamado-style cookers and they have since become established as the ultimate outdoor cooking apparatus for backyard and competition BBQ alike.
Modern ceramic cookers
Modern ceramic cookers have taken advantage of recent advances in ceramic formulas, which has resulted in a much more durable product. Most brands, including the Big Green Egg have a durable ceramic glazed surface which will last several lifetimes. Some cookers use inferior materials, such as cement-like substances; note that true ceramics are more durable, dense, and have better heat and moisture retention properties than these cheaper cement products.
A Note About the Word “Kamado”
It has been claimed that the word “kamado” was coined and trademarded by American Richard Johnson as a shortened form of mushikamado, or “rice cooker”. Apparently, “kamado” is very much a japanese word meaning “stove” or “cooking range”. There seems to be some dispute that this term is actually trademarked, despite Johnnson marketing his product as the Kamado.