There still survive many peoples who are genuine pre-cibi-culturists, i.e. who neither cultivate the vegetable kingdom nor breed animals for food. They go naked, or nearly naked, spend most of their time in the food quest, are without metals or pottery, and ignorant of all but the most rudimentary arts. As might be expected they are found in the most inaccessible parts of the world, where they have for long ages been more or less isolated from their fellows. They include the aboriginal Australians, the Andamanese, the Californian Indians, the Esquimaux, the Bushmen of South Africa, the Veddahs of Ceylon, and the Hairy Ainus.
With the exception of certain kinds which are to some tribes taboo for superstitious reasons, every species of animal food may be said to be acceptable to pre-cibicultural man.
Grubs are eagerly sought after, nor are they to be despised as sources of nutriment, as they often attain considerable dimensions. Worms, scorpions, moths, grasshoppers, sandflies, crickets, locusts, centipedes, caterpillars, and pediculi are also consumed. White ants are in great demand and considerable ingenuity is displayed in catching these and other insects. The Californians catch ants by placing upon the ant-hill a piece of bark or fresh hide on which the ants swarm and from which they are brushed off into a bag : grasshoppers are caught in nets, or by being driven into pits, either by beating the surrounding grass or by setting it on fire. Frogs, toads, lizards, and snakes are, when available, devoured by-all pre-cibiculturists.
It will be observed that we found all these varieties of animal food entering into the dietary of the great apes.
The most notable mammal on which the pre-cibiculturist feeds is man himself, but on the whole he is but little addicted to cannibalism. Big game forms his chief supply of animal food, deer, antelope, and elk being the favourite objects of the chase. The inland tribes of Australia depend mainly for their animal food upon the kangaroo and other marsupials. As might be expected from the difficulty in procuring them, the carnivora seldom serve as food, though the Bushmen are said to eat the lion and the hyaena.
The methods employed for hunting game would afford material for a large volume, and cannot be gone into here.
Among the Esquimaux the seal, the walrus, and the whale constitute the chief sources of food, while the Fuegians at the other extremity of the same continent live largely on seals and porpoises.
Owing to the difficulty in procuring them, birds do not enter greatly into the dietary of pre-cibiculturists.
All pre-cibicultural maratime tribes, such as the Fuegians and the Ainus, subsist largely on salt water fish, while inland tribes living near lakes and rivers procure fresh water fish, of which the most important, especially among the Californians and the Esquimaux, is salmon; there are times when the rivers of California are said to be actually "darkened with the swarms of salmon".
Both fresh water and salt water shell-fish, particularly the latter, are eagerly sought after. Clams are considered a great delicacy by the Californians, who display much skill in diving for them. The Fuegians also are expert divers, both sexes diving for sea-eggs. It is curious that the succulent oyster should be taboo to the aboriginal Australians.
Among the pre-cibiculturists animal food is, as we saw when considering the development of cookery, not infrequently eaten raw, and it is rarely more than very partially cooked. The Esquimaux indeed derive their name from their raw-flesh-eating propensities : frozen flesh they never hesitate to devour raw, and they consider the raw viscera of the ptarmigan a great delicacy. The Veddahs frequently devour raw animal food, and in any case cook it but slightly, often merely scorching it over the fire. The Fuegians readily eat raw fish : one of them, when given a live fish, instantly killed it by biting it near the gills, and then proceeded to devour the whole. Among the native Australians raw flesh is not objected to, though when time permits it is subjected to slight roasting.
Grubs and insects are frequently eaten in the raw state. "It was not a pleasant sight to see an Australian woman divest of wings and legs the gigantic fly (cicula) and then gobble it alive".
Animal food is sometimes boiled by the Esquimaux and the Californians, and occasionally more elaborate methods of cooking it are resorted to. Not infrequently it is eaten "high." The Esquimaux sometimes consume it in a state of actual putrefaction, when it is known as "mikiak"; one dish highly esteemed by them consists of "rotten seals' heads".
Insects are dried in the sun, after which they can be stored for some time. Flesh food and fish are also sun-dried and stored. Another plan, widely adopted, for preserving animal food is by smoking it; the Californians store large quantities of smoked salmon. The Veddahs employ honey as a preservative.