One of the many things I’ve noticed since I’ve started taking a keen interest in food and writing this blog is that everyone likes to talk about food. Some people are willing to try to improve their cooking skills, others want to experiment with new dishes, others want to improve their diet.. and most people just love, love, love to eat.
Whatever the case may be, food is a topic that unites us all. A great number of these conversations tend to lead to social plans too. We might start to talk about different cultures and food and suddenly we’re planning a themed night.
I’ve often wondered: what is it? Epicurean delights tickle our fancy and it’s as though we never get enough. I recently read an article on New Scientist which hit the nail on the head. Cooking is unique to humans. We’ve developed skills for not only making our food more palatable but we have turned it into an art on the way there. THAT is one of the things we all do.. we all eat cooked food (ok so there are those few who are on some raw diet) so it’s no surprise that it unites us and no surprise either that most social gatherings involve food! And I quote..
Compared with other animals, the feeding behaviour of humans is exceedingly odd. Where they just eat, we make a meal of it. The main difference is down to one of humanity’s greatest inventions: cooking. People in every culture cook at least some of their food, says Richard Wrangham at Harvard University. He has made a persuasive case that cooked food, which delivers more calories with much less chewing than raw food, was the key innovation that enabled our ancestors to evolve big energy-hungry brains and become the smart, social creatures we are today (New Scientist, 16 July 2010, p 12). Chimps spend at least 6 hours a day chewing, he notes, humans, less than 1. That leaves a lot of free time for culture.
From Human nature: Being epicure by Bob Holmes and Kate Douglas