THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART II

THE HISTORY OF FIRE COOKING PART II

In Part I, we covered the scientific theories on how cooking with fire began, including the scientific documentation that puts this method’s discovery approximately 2 million years ago. In The history of fire cooking part II, we will present additional information on how our bodies developed from the introduction of cooking meat as well as the evolution of the wood fire to the oven.

A Change in Anatomy

Our ancestors were chimp-like creatures and thought to be the most advanced animals on earth. These creatures had long arms, short legs, hand-like feet, large mouths and powerful jaws. Covered in fur, they slept in the trees. That is, until they discovered fire and learned to cook.

Once fire cooking was founded, these ape-like creatures became erect, their brains enlarged, and their jaws became smaller. Why? Because cooked foods provide a higher caloric value.

Research has shown that weight loss is guaranteed to people who consume raw-food diets only. In fact, the more raw food consumed, the more weight loss. The only problem with this diet is it takes a lot of raw food to generate a caloric level to sustain an active animal. Our primate ancestors had to graze all day to generate enough calories to keep going leaving time for nothing else.

With the discovery of fire and all its benefits, ape-men emerged. Originally covered in fur, a few thousand years following fire’s discovery, the fur disappeared. As a result, this helped to improve hunting skills as the weight of fur made ape-men faster. Also with the discovery of fire, these creatures had no need to escape to the trees at night as fire provided protection from predators. Without the climbing, long legs developed and feet that looked less like hands.

The Start of the Family Dynamic

Once animals were trapped and cooked within flames of forest fire and these creatures sampled cooked vegetation and meat; that changed everything. They began to develop skills at designing knives for hunting. This in turn developed some level of social skills and brain development, as the brain was being fed more nutrients. Flint was discovered and used to produce sparks when rubbed against rocks, allowing for control of fire.

Hunting became a daily event. The first gender structure was designed with males hunting and females cooking. It was cooking that forced early humans to live by cooperation. Both males and females relied on each other. This was the start of family, and more socialized and calmer tempers. With regular ingestion of cooked foods, the brain began to grow since cooked food takes less energy to digest, more energy defaulted to brain development. Learning to cook gave these developing humans more time which allowed for more food discoveries and time management.

The Oven

Once fire was discovered and harnessed for the betterment of life, it was a slow transition to bring cooking from the outdoors into the indoors. First, as mentioned in Part I of our series, it transitioned into cave dwellings. We know that in ancient times, the period of 60,000BC to 650AD, ancient Egyptians, Jews, and Romans all used some form of stone or brick oven cooking, fired with wood, to produce breads. In fact, that early design remains very much like the pizza/bread ovens of today.

Beehive-shaped brick ovens came about in Colonial America, the period of 1492 to 1763, and was the advent of learning to control the amount of wood to ash to regulate temperature. If you’ve ever heard of or used “the hand test” to measure temperature of a grill or outdoor cooking fire, then you know how Colonial Americans tested their ovens. Hold your hand about 5-inches from the cooking surface.

The number of seconds you can hold your hand there equals a temperature level:

High (450° to 550°F): 2 to 4 seconds

Medium (350° to 450°F): 5 to 7 seconds

Low (250° to 350°F): 8 to 10 seconds

Colonial Americans would add more wood to increase temperature or open the door to reduce it.

The invention of cast iron stoves began to replace wood hearth cooking in the 1700’s. In 1795, Count Rumford invented a version of the cast iron stove that was different from earlier versions in that it had a single fire source that could be regulated individually for different pots being used at the same time. Additionally, it could heat the entire room. Unfortunately, it was extremely large making it difficult for most kitchens to accommodate it.

With the discovery of electricity, man continued to find new uses for this source of energy. In fact, one of the keys was to incorporate it into the home and the electric stove was key to making home life easier. In 1892, an entire meal’s preparation was demonstrated at the Ottawa Windsor Hotel in Canada, paving the way for sale to future homes.

Continued Discovery in The History of Fire Cooking

These early discoveries are what formed our continued thirst for finding the best methods of cooking in the fastest yet most flavor means possible, while feeding our brains to keep us developing. Charcoal grills, brick and clay pizza ovens, gas grills, infrared grills, campfires were all shaped by the very first cooking event, even if the first event was by nature’s hand alone. In conclusion, we hope you enjoyed the The History of Fire Cooking Part II. Finally, stay tuned for part III.

By Donna J. Grant, M.S., Lead Wood Specialist, Member- American and Canadian Culinary Federations, at SMOKINLICIOUS® GOURMET WOOD PRODUCTS. For additional information regarding this article or other wood cooking questions, please contact her at 1–800–941–5054 or at info@smokinlicious.com. Follow us on Quora for our content contributions.

--

--

--

This publication offers tips and culinary insight on any foods cooked or smoked with wood.

Recommended from Medium

My neighbor and I started THIS secret project and you should too

Food during quarantine

Our Smoked Carrot Cake

My little Garden

Scoop of soil

SPICY BUTTER FOR SMOKY GRILLED CORN

GRILLED PEACHES FOR THE PERFECT SALAD ADDITION

Before the Tomato Arrived in Italy

I Like Bread and Butter

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Smokinlicious

Smokinlicious

SmokinLicious® Cooking Wood Products is a true culinary cooking wood company that is blazing trails in wood-fired cooking circles- info@smokinlicious.com

More from Medium

The Rabbit Factor

A reawakening moment

Dzogchen Revisited

Science and innovation, an ambiguous relationship