Once people learned how to cook, everything changed. Foods became softer to eat, less time was spent chewing, and it made meats more nutritious and easier to digest. The advent of cooking is truly the moment when people took their first steps towards civilization. We’re going to take a look at how our ancient ancestors used to prepare their favorite meals.
Using fire to cook was the first method discovered by our early ancestors, but the allure of using water was too appealing to be ignored. Prior to the discovery of ceramics and metals, boiling was very problematic, as all cooking vessels were either hollowed gourds or made out of wood. Boiling water over an open fire was impossible to do, but our clever ancestors figured out an ingenious solution. They would fill a vessel full of water, place the food in it, and then heat up stones in a fire to drop into the water-filled vessel. After enough stones were added, the water would start to boil, and the vessel would be left intact. This method was very popular and still used today by the aboriginal population of Hawaii. There’s even evidence of people using limestone, which increased the availability of digestible proteins in the boiled food.
Today, you can’t say roast meats without thinking of an oven, but to our ancestors, roasted meat meant something very different. In fact, what we call roasted meats they would have called baked meats. The method of cooking meats on a hearth in front of an open fire was very popular and is incredibly ancient. There’s evidence dating back 300,000 years ago of our ancient ancestors using hearths to cook their meats. In the modern age, hearth cooking has gone out of style.
Earth ovens are one of the oldest methods of cooking and can be used to bake, steam, or smoke food. An earth oven is made by digging a pit in the ground and lighting a large fire in it. Once the fire has died down and has produced some hot coals, the food is thrown on top and buried. Once the food is cooked, it’s dug up and consumed. The practice is used frequently in Hawaii and draws in thousands of tourists every day. In Australia, the method is used by the aboriginal community frequently and is revered as an ancient cultural tradition.
It’s impossible to say when people first began to use the sun and the wind to dry meats. Because it can occur naturally, it’s incredibly hard for archeologists and anthropologists to specify when people first started drying meats, but we’ve been doing it for a long time. All that needs to be done to dry meat is to cut it into thin strips and then place it on a hot stone that gets tons of sun exposure. There’s evidence that people have been doing this for at least 12,000 years. From the ancient Romans and Greeks to the aboriginal populations of North America, many ancient cultures used food drying to preserve their meats
Open fire cooking is the first cooking method we learned to use, and still lives on at campfires and BBQs all over the planet. All that’s required here is a fire and some food and chemistry does the rest. This method a million years ago. It’s classic, it’s simple, and it defines cooking in the truest sense. While all the other methods we’ve ranked have been interesting, open fire cooking is Number 1 because it is essential.