The Beginnings Of Cooking

A Brief Look at the Beginnings of Cooking in Human Civilization

What must have been like for the first man to discover all the beauty and flavors God have put on Earth? What do we think we know about those beginnings?
Tastessence Staff
Last Updated: Mar 7, 2018
God created Adam in this idyllic garden of Eden, where he had everything he needed; Eve appeared and then sin, however the historical and archeological discoveries speak about those times, thus we get some information, lacunar at it may be regarding the beginnings.
Before discovering fire, primitive people is said to have used to feed on fruits, roots and raw meat. Researchers say that roasted meat was first discovered by pure chance. Thus, the meat of animals which fell victims to fire incidents apparently had a better taste and were more easily digested than raw meat. Other rudimentary cooking procedures included frying wild cereals on flat stones or using shells, skulls or carved stones in order to heat beverages. Nonetheless, cooking did not evolve until the introduction of pottery in the Neolithic. Researchers have also discovered that the oldest complex meal was a sort of raw paste similar to the recipe later on used by Roman legions, called "polenta", or resembling the Romanian "mamaliga". This paste was made by mixing water with seeds from wild plants, and then crushing them. This paste was soon fried on a hot stone until it formed a crust and this is how the first type of bread appeared.
Cooking techniques have of course improved after the appearance of the clay jars and vessel, and especially after the development of human settlements, together with the domestication of animals and the cultivation of edible plants. The very first beverages used by the primitive man included human milk, which proved to be vital for the growth and development of infants, and for the survival of the species. Water was also essential for survival. But these two beverages which were and still are so important for human body's good health and development, could also turn into sources of infections and diseases, and they were sometimes even fatal. Hunters generally did not stay in just one place, so they didn't have time to pollute or damage springs, ponds, rivers and lakes. No matter where people built houses, there still was the danger of contaminating the water, especially for sedentary farmers. A solution to this problem appeared to be the discovery of drinks which got sterilized through the process of fermentation.
The grape-made wine appeared around 3000 BC. The discovery of distillation method producing whiskey and brandy started about eight hundred years ago. The first real beer was produced in the Middle Ages, about 600 years ago. Boiling water was another method of avoiding pathogenic agents. Much like fermentation, the process of boiling could also result in very tasty drinks. Thus, the Chinese enthusiastically embraced tea making during the Tang dynasty age (618 - 907) and have remained fervent tea drinkers ever since. Central Asian nomads have also adopted this drink and they brought it to Russia. Tea got to Japan in the 6th century but it only became popular seven hundred years ago. From Japan, tea got to Indonesia, where it was later on discovered by the Dutch and brought to Europe. Some decades later the English played an essential role in popularizing the drink and commercializing it. The historical evolution of coffee is also extremely interesting. Originally, the coffee plant was a wild plant species which grew in Ethiopia. The Galla tribe used coffee beans as food rations in times of war; coffee beans were covered in animal grease. This plant had indeed energizing effects on people and animals.
In the year 1000 coffee was brought to Arabia by merchants which started to grow it on plantations. During the same period of time, the Arabs began roasting coffee beans and thus obtained a drink they called "qahwa", which meant "something that chases away sleep". The first country which adopted coffee as a drink was Turkey. Turkish people would often add spices such as cinnamon, pimento, nutmeg and anise to the delicious coffee drink. Coffee was gradually introduced in all the Arabic countries. The inhabitants of these countries considered it to be a genuine delight and they strongly defended the secret of its recipe. It was illegal to transport coffee outside Muslim countries. So coffee was spread through illegal means when an Arab named Baba Budan built a coffee farm somewhere in the Mysore mountains, in India.
Initially, Christianity considered coffee to be a devilish drink. But Pope Vincent the 3rd found out about this beverage and decided to try it before putting a ban on it. He liked it so much that he decided to bless it, on the grounds that coffee was too delicious and it was a shame to let only the unfaithful pagans taste it. Of course, like any other food, it must not be taken in excess.
Coffee Roasting - Traditional Method
Alcohol and perfume distillery
Caveman cooking meat on fire
Roasting in a clay pot