As Adobe has become popular in the Southwest, the horno was never far behind as a peripheral addition to the adobe pastoral. Builders and realtors discovered that having an horno sitting by the house added to home value and increased sales. Their pleasing aesthetic, with the classic round dome shape, along with bancos or adobe benches becomes an extension to the kitchen and adds outside living area that all can enjoy.
There is a more sobering reality to the horno. Its pleasing air of substantial informality disguises a vital survival fact. If the electricity goes blink, or the propane runs out, or the natural gas freezes in the pipes (as it did in Albuquerque in 1970), your horno becomes a survival tool. As long as you can find wood, you can bake bread or cook meat. It was always that way, not so long ago. Today, no utility can guarantee that their power will be %100 at all times. I heard two old ladies chattering in the post office the other day, worried about whenther their propane supply would last until the next social security check came in. One of them lamented selling the old family adobe with its horno and commented that her ‘modern’ mobile home uses too much energy to heat and cool.
Horno cooking is mostly by radient heat, built up in the adobe mass,. There are different hornos for different foods. I like the analogy about the three bears. The papa bear or big horno for cooking meat, the mama bear or middle-sized horno for baking bread and the little bear or baby horno for cookies, pastires and chile preparations.