My anxious foot is rebelling against me as I tap the floor of a Friday packed restaurant in Downtown Dubai. Impatiently staring at my finely made steak as my friend snapchat the plate from every angle, like an archaeologist unravelling the mystery of yesterday. Yesterday… I had sushi yesterday, Hamachi Maki with a drizzle of Kikkoman soy sauce. It’s funny how things work today wouldn’t you say? For breakfast one can have the New York eggs benedict, for lunch a Jordanian Mansaf with mint tea, and for dinner a Spanish sea food paella from the aroma of the sea’s.
Food, oh how I love it. The chemical reactions bubbling inside your mouth, or is it just cooking with love? Either way, something about eating makes this little red heart of mine smile. As I wait for my friend who’s still taking pictures, I see around me the different nationalities, genders, and ethnicities all gathered here to make their little red hearts smile just like mine. How did we end up here? Not here in this restaurant with my ridiculously snapchatty friend and my photogenic steak, but rather us as humans. How are we able to have an international array of cuisines to eat from? Why do I have to tell my waiter to cook my steak medium well or cook it at all can’t I just eat it raw and thaw my primal instincts? My curiosity once again triumphs over me and I cannot help but to take out my phone and google away my questions.
So in 1773, the Scottish writer James Boswell stated that “no beast is a cook” and that homo sapiens are “the cooking animal.” Think of it, animals can walk, think, feel, communicate, and some can ride a jet ski. However, no animal but humans can actually cook. A Harvard anthropologist named Richard Wrangham published a book called “Catching Fire” stated that it is the discovery of cooking that enabled humans to evolve as a community. Every species is busy digesting raw food and spending most of its time chewing. We humans learned to cook our food so that it would take less time to eat and digest while retaining all, if not more of its energy and nutrition. This allowed our brain and our bodies to grow while giving us more time to spend on developing culture and science.
But how is it that today I can have such a wide verity of different cuisines? I mean just choosing this restaurant took us half an hour due to the numerous international options available to choose from in Dubai. Always has food become such a major contributor to the growth and survival of any civilization. Take the Egyptians for example, most of their heliographic artwork revolves around the production of food, or the abundance of food after you die.
Historically humans were hunters and gatherers whereby they would only hunt and eat what they needed. However, with the introduction of agriculture a surplus of food emerged, thus completely revolutionizing the way communities worked. Once a community had a surplus of food people had more time to focus on other things such as arts and science. In addition, communities can now exchange their surplus goods with other communities thus paving way to trade and commerce. Since there is a stock of surplus food, an entity had to be in charge of protecting and distributing it, thus governments and civilizations were formed.
With the increase of globalization and technological methods to preserve food we were able to trade our sources of food internationally. Which is why now you can find Japanese Sushi, Australian Kobe steak, Brazilian bananas, or Fiji apples in most supermarkets. The economy of food and the ability to cook or preserve our food has not only advanced our societies but was also a motive of international trade. Granted, sometimes this motive is not always positive such as the spice and salt wars in colonized India, or the Banana massacre in Colombia. However, because we were able to cook, preserve, and trade our food we were able to develop a globalized world that forces countries to be deeply interdependent with one another.
So.. yah, food is awesome, and my good friend finally finished taking pictures of my Australian Wagyu steak into his snap-chat. Here I can say thank God to globalization and technology for enabling us to feast on meals from numerous cultures. Bismillah.
Featured Photo by: PetitPlat