Standard Pages (they don't change often)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cooking evolves

Discussions among the louder local food aficionados (my genteel term for "foodies") are heavily biased around dining out. Couple with a predilection to hyperbole, and debates can rage over such small things as subtle differences in how steaks are cooked, or how salads are dressed, or eggs are prepared. Never mind the fact, of course, that most dishes discussed can be easily prepared at home. But many of the discussions don't address the discontent by simply cooking, instead choosing to bemoan the poor availability or access to a particular foodstuff already prepared in its final form.

It's as if there's a reversion to the hunter-gatherer mindset.

I just finished watching a BBC documentary called "Did Cooking Make Us Human?", a fascinating look a the anthropology, biochemistry, and paleontology about the origin of cooking, and its coincidence with the change of diet, and the rise of modern human characteristics. One notable change is the evolution of consuming meat - earlier ape-like ancestors likely lived on purely vegetarian diets, and spent quite of a bit of their time chewing just to get the enough calories. An interesting experiment should be illustrative for the proponents of a raw foods diet - when volunteers are asked to eat raw fruit and vegetables equivalent to the required calorie intake, they spent so much time chewing, they ended up never finishing the provided food. Which was good for the period of the experiment, as they ended up losing weight. The narrator, however, extrapolated that in the wild, they would have simply starved to death - the conclusion being that modern human physiology was ill equipped for such a diet of raw vegetation. Coincidentally, volunteers also experienced some rather drastic gastrointestinal problems, and complained of a lack of satiety.

One thing to note about this documentary is how beautifully lush the shots were of people eating the food. The slow motion tearing of a steak, or the barehanded consumption of a pineapple looked opulent rather than disturbing. On the other hand, one of the weaker aspects of the film Julie and Julia was the cinematography of people eating. While the food itself was well lit and photographed, footage of people sloppily eating quickly dispelled any desire to eat.

1 comment:

  1. I haven't seen the 'Cooking' film yet, but I agree completely about the inadequacy of the eating parts of J&J. I liked the movie, but that part was disappointing.