Today cooking is quite an art. There are great chefs, famous restaurants, thousands and thousands of cookclubs, and millions of people who are proud of being able to cook well. Yet there was a time when man didn’t even cook his food. The early cave man ate his food raw. Even after fire had been discovered, the only kind of cooking that took place was to throw the carcass of an animal on the burning embers.
It was only gradually that man learned to bake in pits with heated stones, and to boil meats and vegetables, dropping redhot stones into a vessel of water.
Greek civilization advanced cooking to a stage of great luxury. In ancient Athens, they even imported food from distant lands, and the Romans had magnificent banquets in their days.
Then, during the Middle Ages, the art of cooking” declined and the only place where fine cooking was found was in the monasteries. When good cooking was revived again, Italy, Spain, and France led the way. These countries were proud of having a more refined taste than England and Germany, where the people ate chiefly meat.
A curious thing about cooking is that many primitive peoples knew almost every form of cooking that we are practising now. They just did it more crudely. For instance, we cook by broiling roasting, frying, baking, stewing or boiling, steaming, parching, and drying. The American Indians actually knew all these ways of cooking, except frying!
You may think that the chief reason for cooking food is to make it taste better. Actually, the changes cooking produces in food help us to digest it better. Cooked food also guards our health, because the heat destroys parasites and bacteria which might cause us harm.