The Smoke of Many Fires: A Meditation on Cooking Fires in Africa*

I still smell the smoke of many fires, its pungency hauling up memories, deep from that hidden place where forgotten things wait until the right atoms collide. With each of my slow short breaths, a picture of West Africa emerges, behind my eyes where I can see the past scrolling like a Technicolor movie. The…

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Prometheus Unbound: New Evidence on Humans’ Early Use of Fire

I woke up this morning fully intending to end my two weeks of silence on this blog - due to familial obligations - with a preliminary examination of the role of ducks in French cuisine. But that alluring topic took a sudden backseat when I opened up my local newspaper and read, "Humans May have…

Reveling in Books: Catching Fire

“If there hadn't been women we'd still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization in order to impress our girl friends. And they tolerated it and let us go ahead and play with our toys.” Orson Welles, actor, director, producer, writer (1915-1985) My big Homo-sapiens brain caught on fire while…

Cooking: The Theory, with a Little Help from Chimps

Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you what you are. ~~ Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin ~~ As Alice Arndt said in Culinary Biographies, "The names of the most famous cooks of their day, the most influential writers and thinkers, the most fashionable restaurateurs, often bring blank looks when mentioned today."  Just the other…