Whether you live on the sunny coasts of California or on the Fjords of Norway, summer means grilling. The warmer days are perfect for sitting outside, sharing a meal and a few cold ones with friends and family. Barbecuing has become a tradition, but the practice itself changed radically since its early days.
As humanity progressed towards civilization, the cooking and consumption of food were also affected. At first a mere source of nourishment, these activities soon acquired a certain social meaning. It wasn’t only about feeding anymore, being able to throw a good party showed power, wealth, and a certain savoir faire.
A Revolution Rocking The Caveman’s Life
Alongside the invention of writing, the discovery of fire marks one of the most important moments in the history of mankind. Cavemen, once confined to following the natural cycles of day and night, suddenly had control over their own activities and lifestyle. Fire could be used to fend off attackers, illuminate villages, and as an instrument of war.
The earliest evidences showing the use of fire can be dated back to 1,6 million years ago. Grilling as we know it today didn’t start right away though. Our ancestors were more than used to raw food. Furthermore, meat was often consumed as soon as possible to prevent it from rotting. It would take cooking a bit more to become the norm.
Today, we consider a juicy steak a staple of the western culture. In ancient time, though, cooking was simply another way to store food for later use. If they couldn’t eat it right away, meat would be wrapped around a stick and charred. Far from being tasty, the final product could at least be salted and saved for a long trip!
From Metalworking To The Future
Believe it or not, barbecuing didn’t originate in the United States. In fact, the first to design a device that could allow them to grill their food were the Japanese. The Shichirin, a small cooking stove made out of ceramics, can still be found in most houses. The grill ran on coal and could be used both inside and outside.
When was the real deal born, then? According to historians, not before the 18th century. Barbecuing was brought to the Americas, alongside plenty of other traditions, by the pioneers who settled it. Meat lovers had to wait a handful more years before mustard, salt, pepper, and vinegar were added to their tables, but the basic cooking technique was already there.
Exactly like most other technologies, grills and the art of barbecuing further evolved after World War II. The round backyard companion we all know came to be in the 1950s; gas-powered grills made their appearance in the late 60s and the early 70s. The 90s, instead, brought along high-tech platforms. As fossil fuels start dwindling and renewable energies come to the fore, a solar-powered grill doesn’t sound so odd anymore.
Our past and future are full of surprises! Want to know more? Take a look at the infographic below!