Santa Fe museum brings taste of history to visitors

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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – There is a new way to get a taste of New Mexico history — literally.

Within the next week or so, the New Mexico History Museum will have a traditional “horno,” or oven, up and running, and the museum has big plans for it.

“It’ll be a delicious taste of history,” said Museum Educator Melanie LaBorwit.

They’re seen in pueblos around the state, but their origin dates back to Islamic influences in Spain.

“In the documentation of the palace there was a quote found from General Stephen Watts Kearny who came to Santa Fe at the end of the Mexican-American war and claimed this as American territory,” LaBorwit said.

General Watts Kearny wrote about the hornos in the courtyard of the Palace of the Governors, which is part of the history museum.

“And so we thought it would be really fun to put one back,” she said.

Over the last several weeks, museum volunteers have worked to install a Spanish-style adobe horno, made entirely out of clay bricks.

“So they introduced this particular style of cooking to the indigenous people here in New Mexico,” LaBorwit said.

The plan is to invite museum guests to dig in and experience the state’s history in a new way.

“We hope to use it regularly to do demonstrations for whether it’s bread baking or roasting corn. If we get ambitious we’ll be making cookies, turkeys.”

There are ideas to invite traditional bakers to do recipe swaps and get the public involved in baking.

Guests will also be able to buy the bread cooked in the horno in the museum shop.

“We’re always looking for new ways to bring history to come to life and this is exactly the kind of thing that’ll make a really memorable visit for the people who come here from all over the country and all over the world,” LaBorwit said.

The focus is to keep it interactive. When the horno needs re-mudding, the public will again be invited to lend a hand.

“I think it’ll be a really exciting way to look at history,” she said.

Museum educators say the horno will also provide endless lessons for area kids on school trips, not just history, but a taste of math and science as well.

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