Strawberries and reindeer

From an interstitial essay in a wonderful book of portraits and reportage examining what foods “typical” families from around the world eat in the course of a week.

Cooking is universal among our species. Cooking is even more uniquely characteristic of our species than language. Animals do at least bark, roar, chirp, do at least signal by sound; only we bake, boil, roast and fry….

Few advances comparable in importance to cooking have happened since [its development]. The most important have been more quantitative than qualitative. We began not simply to harvest but to adopt certain palatable plants and animals as aids and conspirators. By 3,000 to 4,000 years ago, we had domesticated all those that have been central to our diets ever sense—barley, wheat, rice, maize, potatoes, sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and so on…. We have domesticated nothing more significant than strawberries and reindeer since.


from “Baked, Boiled, Roasted and Fried,” by Alfred W. Crosby, in Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio’s Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, 2005

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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