Thursday, December 15, 2022

Hot Meals ~ 70,000 Years Ago

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Society, Culture, Anthropology, Archaeology

Ed Hessler

"In her comments introducing Nature Briefing selections for December 13, 2022, Senior Editor Flora Graham commented on the response to the entry she made about the oldest cooked meal found so far. Here is the full quote.

"Last week, I told you about the oldest cooked meal ever found: a tasty-sounding seed flatbread that might have been cooked by Neanderthals 70,000 years ago.

"Readers, you told me that you had to see that recipe, and palaeoecologist Chris Hunt did not let us down. Here are the edited details, which I’m sharing on the understanding that you will send me your photos and reviews of your own efforts:

"Neanderthal ‘flatbread’
"Based on an analysis by archaeobotanist Ceren Kabukcu, Hunt and their colleagues at Shanidar Cave in the north-west Zagros Mountains. 'Following this recipe, you get something quite earthy tasting from the lentils and quite toasty, too, from the ‘grass’ seeds,” says Hunt.

Two parts grass seeds — Hunt recommends wheat berries or pot barley
One part lentils — try brown or Puy lentils

  1. Soak everything overnight and then drain.
  2. Grind in a pestle and mortar, or use a stick blender if you must.
  3. Keep going until you have a mush with most components “in the 1-2 millimetre or smaller range” — add a little water as you go if needed.
  4. Add more water until you have a thick paste.
  5. Scoop some mixture onto a flat griddle or frying pan.
  6. Cook gently, browning on each side. “Better for 15–20 minutes on a low heat rather than getting things really smoking!” advises Hunt, who sounds like he speaks from experience here.
Fast-forward 30,000 years and there is evidence from Shanidar that food was more diverse, including fruit from the terebinth (related to the pistachio), a wild precursor of the fava bean and mustard seeds, as well as wild grasses and wild lentils. And there is separate evidence that Neanderthals ate almonds. Add modern versions of these to your mix, and you’ll find the taste “significantly more interesting”, says Chris. Combining it with grilled goat or fish would also be “quite legitimate”, he adds. Sorry — strictly no salt.'

"Thanks for reading.'"


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