Thursday, November 19, 2009

The quest for fire.

I grew up in a neighborhood full of kids my age. Kids I would follow through school from elementary to high school. Some of my fondest memories growing up were playing flashlight tag on a crisp autumn night when it got dark early. Flashlight tag is a version of tag but you play in the dark and if the flashlight hits you and "IT "says 1-2-3 tag then you're captured. What I also remember is the smell of grills starting up, hoping one of them was in my back yard. My mother did the grilling and her skills were simple, hot dogs, hamburgers, and steaks. We had an old Brassier style grill. I often wonder how we didn't loose more food to the ground on that old rickety thing. As a Boy Scout and later as a Boy Scout leader, I relished the chance to go camping, knowing we would build a large fire and sit around it for warmth and comfort. I have always loved cooking on an open fire. Recently while driving through a rural area, I caught the smell of burning leaves. I remember back in the day when you could burn leaf trash in your yard. The smell would cover the neighborhood. Man did that bring back memories. What makes the smell of fire so attractive to us?

I think it is quiet primal. Think about it. Man's first cooked meal was cooked by an open fire. Think for a moment with me. Man is a carnivore. He hunted for game and probably like other animals, ate his fill and moved on. The discover of fire and how to control it was probably one of the most important milestones in the evolution on man. This is one of the things that separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

So picture with me early man waking up one day with an unfamiliar smell in the air. As he walks toward it the smoke gets thicker until he sees the fire. Probably a tree or grassland set on fire by lightning. He puts his hand out and feels the heat. He probably burns himself in his curiosity. Once he learns to control and transport fire, he has warmth, light, and protection. One day he makes a kill and starts a fire to warm himself as he eats. After eating his fill he falls asleep. The next morning he looks at the carcase and notices it has changed. He reaches down to tear away a piece and finds it is warm and easy to pull. He also notices it is easier to chew and digest. Man has just discovered another advantage to fire, and we have been perfecting the art of BBQ and grilling ever since.

Whether it is hamburgers or pizza, everything taste better cooked with fire.


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