The question whether at the beginning of the cookery epoch the process was employed equally for animal and vegetable food, or for the one more than for the other, is of great interest. We believe that it was in the first instance chiefly, if not entirely, applied to vegetable food. There were many reasons why man should cook the latter, and few inducements for him to cook his animal food. We have seen that cookery promotes the digestibility of all vegetable substances, the luscious fruits only excepted. On animal food it has no such effect : true, the connective tissue is gelatinized by heat, but on the other hand, the proteins are coagulated and, if anything, rendered less digestible than in the raw state. Why, then, should early man have been prompted to cook his animal food? It is true that cooked flesh is to us more savoury than raw, but it is very doubtful whether it was to him, and whether he would be at great pains to cook it merely for the sake of improving its flavour. He was a hunter and largely carnivorous for long ages before he learnt to cook at all, and what he strove after so eagerly we may be sure he devoured with no less avidity, and with all the savage relish of the genuinely carnivorous animal.
Strange to say, Cuvier held that man became an animal feeder by virtue of cookery, and quite recently the same view has been put forward by Dupont, Boidier, and Berge. "It can be asserted with complete assurance," observes the last-named writer, " that if man has been able to include flesh foods in his dietary it is essentially because he has been enabled to submit them to the action of fire. Unless cooked, these foods are very difficult of assimilation (sic) and cannot therefore enter into his dietary." This view is altogether untenable, for not only is raw animal food without question very readily assimilable, but man was a hunter long before he employed cookery.
As further suggesting that cookery was in the first instance mainly, if not exclusively, employed for vegetable food we may cite the fact that all the surviving pre-cibiculturists (with the exception of the Esquimaux, who are necessarily almost entirely carnivorous) spend much time and care in cooking their vegetable food, often putting it through processes truly amazing in their complexity, while their animal food is either eaten actually raw or cooked in an altogether casual and haphazard fashion. Not less significant is the fact that the practice of eating raw, or semi-raw, animal food can be traced down to modern times in peoples who have entered upon the cibicultural stage. Thus the Andorobos of Africa sit round the carcass of their quarry and devour it raw, while other cibicultural African tribes are known to drink the blood of animals, both living and dead, a practice which is even to this day not unknown in Europe. We have it from an eye-witness that a Swedish sportsman, having shot a stag, put a flask to its cut throat and, filling it, drank off the blood with gusto, and the custom clearly survives among deer-stalkers in Scotland, when they drink to the words "more blood" a jorum of whisky by the body of the quarry.
Nor must we forget that neo-man does not refuse raw animal food : oysters and other shell-fish are eaten raw, raw ham is a common article of food on the continent, and a dish in which raw steak is the chief ingredient is by some gourmets greatly esteemed. Moreover, there is abundant evidence that the most delicately nurtured will in extremity devour raw animal food with avidity.