Is good cooking defined by ingredients, skill in preparation, style of cuisine, or is it something even more fundamental and deeply human?
We left out of Africa all the way back in Episode 1, and rarely looked back, but in this episode we finally return to the vast continent, specifically south of the Sahara desert, where more than any other qualities, feeling full and satisfied are what make a great meal, and a great chef is one who can evoke that feeling the most.
Come listen for this and other perspectives on food and dining we so rarely hear about in western history.
Beef Femur bone (kept whole and split length wise, or cut in “rings” as shown here) 2-3 large garlic cloves Olive oil and salt Salad or Bread to eat with it (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F. Lay out marrow bones on foiled baking sheet, coating with olive oil and salt to taste. Peel and smash garlic cloves, rubbing them onto marrow and leaving in place for roasting. Cook in the oven for 15-20 mins, until the marrow is bubbly not so long that it liquefies and falls out of the bone. Let cool 5 minutes, then scoop out and enjoy with bread or salad.
Today we’re talking bone marrow, our last pre-Neolithic inspired recipe for a while before we dive into bread, beer, cheese, and settled life.
If you listened to the first episode of the Anthrochef podcast, you know that eating meat played a big role in growing the brains of our earliest ancestors. Remember though, that we did not start out as hunters, but rather as scavengers. DNA evidence shows that the earliest humans ate with the dogs and picked clean carcasses some other predator had already killed.
But most of the good meat was already gone by the time these upright apes could get to it. What was left besides a few meager scraps?
6 oz. beef filet, diced very small 1 egg 2 tbsp mustard seeds 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 1 tbsp. sesame seeds 1 tbsp. walnuts 1/2 bunch scallion whites or wild onions sprig of sage 2 tbsp. water
Imagine you are someone else. Someone entirely different. It’s the mid Pleistocene era, almost two million years ago, which means you are not even a homo sapien. You are homo erectus, an upright, fairly intelligent human ancestor. You are not the first in the hominid line to eat meat. Homo Habilis, Homo Ergaster, and even earlier hominids before you were picking already dead carcasses something else had hunted clean and smashing bones to suck out the delicious marrow.
But you, homo erectus, are what we call the first persistent carnivore. You have stepped up your hunting game, and no longer need to scavenge off of bigger predators, meaning you can obtain enough meat to call it a regular part of your diet.
It’s possible you knew how to cook this meat. Anthropologists don’t agree if homo erectus were the first cooks or not. Either way, you my friend, have been born too early to know the secrets of fire. You are stuck with raw meat.
All your family and friends are good with just smashing and scarfing, but you feel unsatisfied. There is something stirring inside you, a desire for flavor, and something novel to eat. You don’t know this, but you have the inner being of the first chef!
We’re also missing a lot of ingredients to make a “classic”, modern version of steak tartare, namely pickles. But you are an ancient chef. You are going to make something delicious out of this. Let’s see what you can gather.
What makes us human? Humans are just animals who know how to cook. This first episode attempts to explain what humans and our hominid ancestors have been eating for the 6 million years since we first came down from the trees, how taming fire and cooking gave us our big brains and human culture, up through the foraging days of homo sapiens hunting and gathering in the Paleolithic.
Pleased to finally post the first episode of the AnthroChef Podcast, the History of Food!
Theme music by the incredible Michael Levy of Ancient Lyre. This rendition of the Hurian Hymn, the oldest known piece of sheet music, and the whole album “An Ancient Lyre” and much more is available from all major digital music stores and streaming sites.
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