Cooking Meat: From Stone Age Forest Fires to Your Kitchen
There’s substantial evidence to suggest that the advent of cooking, and cooking meat in particular, was key to the evolution of our species. The practice of preparing food utilizing the effects of fire or other heat sources is completely unique to human beings.
Although the details are somewhat unknown, scientists speculate that cooking began between one and two million years ago. A lot has happened since then, and we’re excited to fill you in. From the stone age to our modern day meat delivery service, humans have gone to great lengths to get so good at being carnivorous.
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Since the exact origins are obscured by the mists of time, we can only guess at how the very first cooked meat came to be. There’s a good chance that our ancient predecessors happened upon the naturally roasted flesh of animals in the aftermath of fires. It’s easy to imagine how they might have marveled at the delicious meat, flavorful and so much easier to digest than the raw meat they were accustomed to. Hickory smoked saber-tooth tiger, anyone?
When fires became a commonly used tool, it would only be a matter of time before roasting spits were used for cooking meat. This technique would have reigned supreme in the ancient culinary world for quite some time. According to archaeological finds, roasting spits were the sole method of cooking until the Paleolithic Period.
Around this time, some ingenious individuals in the south of France began wrapping their food in wet leaves and placing it on hot embers. Behold, the invention of steaming. Other culinary advances were made during this time period including heating liquids in containers made from skulls, shells or shaped stones. However, it wasn’t until the Neolithic Period that pottery came into use. This would have provided prehistoric humans with their first opportunity to create soups and stews.
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As evolution continued, the spread of settled communities would take hold along with the earliest domestication of animals including chickens, sheep and the auroch, a fierce ancestor of the modern day cow. The cultivation of crops completed the foundation for a more dependable food supply. From these developments, cooking practices began to evolve rapidly. With the domestication of dairy-producing animals, milk and early forms of cheese could now be combined with meat and edible plants.
Meat could now be cooked by stewing, braising, boiling, and possibly even baking. The earliest forms of fried and pickled foods would likely have appeared at this point in history. The roasting spit still enjoyed widespread use - even modern day humans know there’s nothing like the taste of fire-roasted meat. Methods of preserving had probably been utilized for some period of time, such as smoking, salting and drying.
As newly birthed civilization neared the time of Christ, dishes became more complex. In the Sumerian city of Ur, the very first street vendors sold fragrant grilled meats to pedestrians. Evidence from Egypt shows the preference of the rich for elaborate meat stews. Descriptions exist of sophisticated Greek kitchens, equipped with specialized tools such as dishes with compartments for boiling varying sizes of eggs. Around this time, the most famous meal in history took place - the Last Supper of Christ.
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Sometime around 25-200 AD, exploration of metalworking began. Cast iron stoves were one of the first creations, originating in China. Molten iron was poured into molds created from sand. For Chinese people of the time, cooking began to take a new form. Stove tops became the center of the kitchen, and the first true oven-roasted meats were savored. This culinary achievement would spread to Europe several centuries later.
The invention of bread plays an important role when it comes to the history of meat. Without bread, meat sandwiches of all kinds would not exist. Evidence suggests that the first leavened bread appeared in Egypt, although the precise time and place this occurred are unknown.
We’re confident that the sandwich really began to become a thing of glory when the word “brioche” came into use in 1404. For meat sandwiches of all kinds, the key to really knocking it out of the park is the combination of top quality meat along with some really delicious bread. France was clearly on a roll (pun intended) - in 1475, charcuterie was born when a decree was made for the sale of pork items like sausages and patés.
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At Beck & Bulow, we really love eating meat. We are proud to provide the most high quality meat available, and we make it convenient to obtain no matter where you’re located. Our meat delivery service makes it possible to receive fresh meat straight from our ranch to your door. Browse our premium selection of bison, elk, lamb, wild boar, grass-fed beef and chicken today. It’s never been easier or more delicious to buy meat online.