: Fire and Cooking [April, 2020]

[Catching Fire, Richard Wrangham ]

“Like the control of fire, cooking is an element of culture. It has to be learned and such learning is done in groups. It demands some division of labour and mutual co-operation and, individual attention and patience. One has to watch the food from time to time and postpone eating it until it is well cooked and has cooled off a little. According to some authors, the attention people had to pay to their cooking would have supplied them with ‘the first subtle and intimate knowledge of matter’, this forming the basis for the further development of the empirical natural sciences.”

[Fire & Civilisation, Johan Goudsblom]

“In modern society fire might be hidden from our view, tidied away in the basement boiler, trapped in the engine block of a car, or confined in the power-station that drives the electrical grid, but we are still completely dependent on it. A similar tie is found in every culture. To the hunting-and-gathering Andaman Islanders of India, fire is “the first thing they think of carrying when they go on a journey,” “the center round which social life moves” and the possession that distinguishes humans from animals. Animals need food, water and shelter. We humans need all those things, but we need fire too.”

[Cooked, Michael Pollan]

“At bottom cooking is not a single process but, rather, comprises a small set of technologies, some of the most important humans have yet devised. They changed us first as a species, and then at the level of the group, the family, and the individual.”