Stone Age cookery

I’m fascinated by news of some research that suggests Europeans were spicing their food with garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata) in the Stone Age – there’s more about it here. Scientists at York University have analysed residues in fragments of clay cooking pots found at archaeological sites in Denmark and Germany, and discovered traces of the seeds of this plant. Because the mustard seeds have little nutritional value, the researchers reckon they must have been used to add flavour to the food. According to the BBC report on the story, “The implications from these findings challenge the previously held belief that hunter-gatherers were simply concerned with searching for calorific food”.

Somehow it surprises me that anyone should be surprised that our Stone Age ancestors were concerned with making their food more delicious. Isn’t taking pleasure in food part of what makes us human?

(Are there any other species that add relishes to their food as we do?)

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