I never imagined in my wildest writing dreams that I’d be writing about cooking.
This week I’m nearing the end of the first draft of Cooking 4 One.
Somehow I’ve written 800 words on cooking eggs. Took longer to write that section than what it takes to cook eggs every way I know how.
As I write down the little I know about cooking, I have come to realise how indebted we are, not only to that long line of mothers and grandmothers that came before us and passed on their knowledge and skills, but to those early members of our species who were curious enough to experiment with fire and mixing things together.
How did they find out that wrapping a root vegetable, like a potato in leaves, and placing it in the fire would give them something a lot more edible than the raw potato? What about deciding that throwing the carcass of that kangaroo or wildebeest, they had just spent hours hunting and killing, onto the fire for a while might be a good idea? You can just see the hunters looking at the guy who first made that suggestion.
“Are you nuts, Harry? We’ve spent all morning hunting this thing and now you want us to burn it?”
“Trust me, boys. It will taste a lot better, and the bits we can’t eat today will still be good tomorrow.”
Obviously, enough people trusted Harry, because we’re all doing it today.
And how did those ideas spread across the globe? There was no internet back in neolithic times. They didn’t even have books or the Post Office for spreading their news. Word of mouth only.
We take so much for granted. Ever wondered who worked out how you could store noodles by drying them? What about making the noodles in the first place? What would I be eating if someone hadn’t worked out how to make pasta?
You can eat eggs raw but someone worked out you could cook them in hot water, and not only do the cooked eggs taste different, you can carry them around with you without worrying about dropping them and losing their precious contents. Today you just go down to the supermarket and buy a carton of eggs, take them home and cook them any number of ways – and it’s no big deal.
I suspect a lot of us, me included until recently, take cooking for granted because someone else does it for us. We forget that all those skills came from someone in history or that someone today has to keep doing it – if we are going to eat today.
Now that I’m cooking for myself, I am forever grateful to all those early pioneers who took all the risks and reduced it down to a few basic skills I can apply in the kitchen. I am also grateful to all those people who worked out all the ways we use for storing and preserving food. I’m especially grateful for whoever is responsible for putting that incredible range of pasta sauces in little jars on the supermarket shelves.
And I’m grateful to Toni, my wife, for the apprenticeship I served as her kitchen hand.
Take a moment today to express gratitude to whoever it is that either cooks for you or taught you how to cook for yourself.