Have you ever considered what life would be like without the appliances you currently enjoy today? Imagine the time and effort it would take to cook a nice dinner if you were attempting to cook it all over the embers of a fire or in a pot in the fireplace. Savoring the history of cooking and how humans have gotten to where they are is something worth the pause to consider. In all reality, stoves and ovens aren’t very old, considering, especially as we know them today.
Preparing food is something that humans have done for thousands and thousands of years. It is a practice that has changed and evolved right along with humans since the dawn of civilization. Many different circumstances and events influenced the development of cooking practices and much has gone into the fine cuisines we enjoy today. The discovery of farming and growing foods that led to the end of the hunter-gatherer type of life was a huge step in the evolution of cooking and preparing foods. The discovery of the New World allowed for the trade and exchange of goods across the oceans, impacting the diets of both the New World and the Old World.
Fire was the way in which people produced heat and light in years past. It was also the way they could manipulate food and heat it through, cooking the food they were preparing. Roasting on a spit over open flames was a common way of cooking animals that were killed for their meat for much of human history. The use of coals to cook was another way that people were expanding their ways of cooking in ancient times. There have been various ways and types of cooking that manipulate the traditional ways to some degree, but in essence are all very similar, throughout history.
The use of stone ovens, hot stones, coals, and fire for cooking can be traced back over a million years in human history. As recently as the 1800s and some of the 1900s, these methods were still a large part of preparing meals in American and other societies. Give yourself a moment to consider how much of your day would go into the preparation and cooking of a meal if you had to gather wood, light a fire and get it going pretty well, prepare your food, and cook it over the fire. You would have to stay near the fire to stir and attend to your pot nearly the whole time it was cooking. The invention of kitchen timers was something that didn’t come until years later!
Through time and the advancement of science, the kitchen range was developed for household use. Still a bit rudimentary and difficult to cook in, ranges were the beginning of the modern day oven with a stove top. As science progressed, it developed better ways of cooking that were easier, faster, and more simple. Conventional and convection ovens are a huge improvement over ranges, fire, or coals. For one, modern cooking appliances cook food more evenly and in shorter amounts of time.
Despite this, there is still something to be gained from learning to grill over an open flame or using coals and a dutch oven to prepare a delicious peach pie. Advances in all our technology have lead to better ways to do these things, such as using a barbeque to contain the fire and still add that delicious open-flame flavor to your food. The use of propane has become a standard for many barbeques instead of the charcoal or wood that people used before. This allows for a cleaner cooking experience. Charcoal has been largely beneficial to cooking with dutch ovens, as it is a great way to contain the heat and thoroughly cook the meal.
With all the advancements in cooking, it gives you something to appreciate. Preparing dinner today is an activity that takes a fraction of the time, energy, and effort it has taken for most of human history. Gives you a new respect for that good ol’ stove sitting in your kitchen, doesn’t it?
Remembering and discovering the roots of where you come from, the incredible technologies that are available for our use in our everyday lives, and everything that has gone into getting us from those roots to where we are today is an important part of learning to appreciate life for what it is. Learning to take care of the things that many take for granted shows respect and humility. Check out our blog posts on cleaning and caring for your oven and stove top to help you get the most out of your appliance! A decent oven is still saving you a lot of time and energy when you consider the alternative options that your ancestors used for centuries!
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