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Although the accidental discovery of roasting would have been perfectly feasible in the primitive world, boiling was a more sophisticated proposition." ---Food in History, Reay Tannahill [Three Rivers: New York] 1988 (p.
13-14) [NOTE: This book contains much more information on early cooking techniques than can be paraphrased here.
In order to render them non-toxic, the roots need to be sliced or pulped, soaked in water for a day and the juice then expressed.
Such a long, complicated procedure seems unlikely to be pre- Mesothilic in date..." ---Food in Antiquity, Don Brothwell and Patricia Brothwell [Johns Hopkins University Press: Baltimore] expanded edition, 1998 (p. Food historians, archaeologists, and paleontolgists do not have exact an answer due to the age of the evidence. While roasting over an open fire appears to be the first method, boiling was not far behind.
Although a simple knowledge of edible plant resources could be transmitted easily enough in Pleistocene times, it seems unlikely that special methods of food preparation were devised before the Neolithic cultural level.
In the case of manioc tubers, for example, which are rich in starch, fat and protein, it is necessary to eliminate...hydrogen cyanide.
Improved health must certainly have been one result of the discovery of cooking, and it has even been argued, by the late Carleton Coon, that cooking was the decisive factor in leading man from a primarily animal existence into one that was more fully human'.
Whatever the case, by all the laws of probability roasting must have been the first method used, its discovery accidental.
"Considering how few plants are used by the great apes..food, in comparison with the very great number eaten by primitive peoples in recent times, the experimental consumption of an ever-increasing variety of food-stuffs may be regarded as one of the important conquests of human evolution.Before the domestication of animals, it is unlikely that potential vegetable food would have been given to any other animal species first, to see what effect these would have (perhaps one of the earliest functions of the dog, besides scavenging, was an 'experimental' animal to test 'new' foods--a procedure known to have been practiced in some recent African communities).Thus, even with the exercise of considerable caution, it is likely that many degrees of food poisoning, from mild stomach disorders to death, occurred before man became fully aware of the limits of his food resources-- both plant and animal.A litter of Chinese piglets, some stray sparks from the fire, a dwelling reduced to ashes, and unfamiliar but interesting smell, a crisp and delectable assault on the taste buds...Taken back a few millennia and relocated in Europe this would translate into a piece of mammoth, venison or something of the sort falling in the campfire and having to be left there until the flames died down.