noodle thoughts

Neanderthal cooking and food history

Cavemen diet

When I was in college, a professor of mine asked us a big question, “How did the cavemen learn how to cook?” It was a question that stumped ALL OF US in our class. Some answered the had to learn how to make fire first. But my teacher said that they weren’t that smart yet to consider fire as a tool. Sorry Cavemen, my teacher thought low of your cranial capacity. Your effort to make fire was pale in comparison to our invention of ice cream. ^^v

Then the rest of the class (myself included) added some sillier stuff. For example, in an arid desert, a twig caught fire because it was too hot and it went down the ground. Near the fire was their meat for the day. As they left their meat beside the burning twig they realized it looked different and decided to eat it and found it yummy. Again, he said they were dumber. We kept suggesting more and all involved fire and some strange tools that we thought helped these cavemen to create their first cooked meal.

When ideas became a lot crazier, my teacher just sighed and decided to give us a scenario of a hot arid day and stones baking in the sun. After a tiring day of hunting, they decided to drop their hunt on this hot slab of stone and heard it sizzle. The smell of grilled meat lured the cavemen. They investigated this charred meat and by force of habit, tasted it and found that it was tasty. Hence, man’s first cooked meal.

I’m sure the tale sounds silly, but that’s how the life of neanderthals go. This story came to mind when I crossed a really interesting feature in Culinate.com about a blogger looking into food history. Her story of researching old menus reminded me of this teacher and his class. Recently, I also heard he went to England to look into food history. It’s amazing to see a burgeoning fascination for food history. I can only imagine the methods employed in research. But that’s just the geek in me talking. If this interests you, you can also check our food timeline.

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