From forest to kitchen: the history of cooking




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Researchers are not exactly sure when fire was discovered, but when it was, the art of cooking was born. Archaeologists did, however, uncover evidence that suggests that Homo erectus discovered campfires 1.5 million years ago.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Based on how modern-day hunter-gatherers prepare their food, anthropologists determined that humans used to eat for necessity rather than flavor. They would throw meat on the fire to cook it or boil it to make it tender.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


In some cultures, they found ways to eat things that are poisonous when raw. For example, certain Native American tribes cooked acorns to remove their tannic acid. Native peoples in South America also removed the cyanide in cassava to make tapioca.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Although the hunter-gatherer lifestyle was healthy, there were frequent famines due to natural disasters. Tribes started to stay in one place and grow their own food in the same spot. This was humans’ conversion to sedentary agriculture.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


While life became easier because there was less risk, humans also became a lot less healthy. Groups would specialize in growing one crop and thus they had a much less varied diet. The food they were eating was much less diverse, and so chefs started to try and make it more culinarily interesting.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


As early civilizations blossomed, cuisine became increasingly important. There was a split between the kind of food cooked for royalty and the average person. This gave rise to many different kinds of cuisines popping up all over.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


In the Middle Ages, there was a need for food that was both functional and delicious. Men would still work long days in the fields and would start very early in the day. They would eat a lot of bread for sustenance.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


At around 10-11 am, they would have their main meal, which would be served hot. Pottage was a common dish for both the rich and poor. It consisted of a bit of meat such as mutton, boiled for a long period of time in vegetables and water. Wealthy people would add almond milk and saffron.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


In the Middle Ages, the concept of humours was central to cooking. People believed that the body was made up of four humours: earth, air, fire, and water. These were represented by black bile,  yellow bile, phlegm, and blood. The cooking process was meant to balance the four humours out.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


In the 17th century, venison was one of the most prized meats to eat. This is because, throughout Europe, it was mostly royalty who owned the venison parks. They would usually bake it in pastry. These pastry casings were called koffins.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


The meat became a status symbol. For those who aspired to be aristocratic, there were recipe books that taught you how to make mutton look like venison by soaking it in red wine or blood.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


One of the most popular ingredients that was available to all walks of life was tongue. Cow tongue was the most popular because it was cheap and widely available. It would be salted and smoked for 19 days. Then they would cut it up, fry it, and serve it on bits of toast.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Around this time, French aristocratic cooking was all the rage. In 1651, one of the first renowned chefs, François Pierre La Varenne, released his book ‘Le Cuisinier Francois.’ It was translated into English in 1653.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


The sandwich as we know it was invented by John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792). He was busy at his desk because he was the head of the Navy. He was so busy that he just wanted something he could pick up with one hand. He called for two slices of bread with meat in the middle, and with that the sandwich was born!




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


In 1760s Britain, the Industrial Revolution hit. People flocked from the countryside to the cities, resulting in their lifestyle and eating habits changing.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


While workers were eating hearty meals, the aristocratic class were hiring the most creative chefs in the world to create specialties such as Parmesan ice cream and eel pie.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Even though there is a link between culinary advancement and stable power structures (i.e. monarchies and dynasties), in northern countries diverse ingredients were lacking. Countries in Scandinavia, Britain, and Northern Europe didn’t have a wide array of flavors in their dishes.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.




Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


Microsoft and partners may be compensated if you purchase something through recommended links in this article.


30/30 SLIDES