Although the accidental discovery of roasting would have been perfectly feasible in the primitive world, boiling was a more sophisticated proposition." ---Food in History, Reay Tannahill [Three Rivers: New York] 1988 (p.13-14) [NOTE: This book contains much more information on early cooking techniques than can be paraphrased here.A litter of Chinese piglets, some stray sparks from the fire, a dwelling reduced to ashes, and unfamiliar but interesting smell, a crisp and delectable assault on the taste buds...Taken back a few millennia and relocated in Europe this would translate into a piece of mammoth, venison or something of the sort falling in the campfire and having to be left there until the flames died down.Berries, nuts, fungus, and water sources were especially complicated and concernful.Myths and legends perpetuated the warnings against consuming known poisonous foods.The use of fire, extended to food preparation, resulted in a great increas of plant food supply.
Thus, even with the exercise of considerable caution, it is likely that many degrees of food poisoning, from mild stomach disorders to death, occurred before man became fully aware of the limits of his food resources-- both plant and animal.
"For hundreds of thousands of years the evolving human race had eaten its food raw, but at some time between the first deliberate use of fire--in Africa in 1,400,000BC or Asia in 500,000BC (depending on which theory happens to be the flavour of the month)-and the appearance of the Neanderthals on the prehistoric scene, cooking was discovered.
Whether or not it came as a gastronomic revelation can only be guessed at, but since heat helps to release protein and carbohydrate as well as break down fibre, cooking increases the nutritive value of many foods and makes edible some that would otherwise be inedible.
1571) "Just as we do not know how, where or by whome fire was first domesticated, we cannot really tell anything about the way food was cooked in the most distant Paleolothic period.
We can only base conjectures on the customs of existing primitive peoples.
The concept of roast meat could scarcely have existed without knowledge of cooking, nor the concept of cooking without knowledge of roast meat.