Food smoking has been consistent from a long, long time ago and some say that it even existed in the prehistoric times. However, it was probably after the cavemen discovered fire. It was said that the first meat to have been smoked was fish then pork and the other meat followed. They discovered that when cured meat was exposed to smoke to dry it, so it would not get spoiled. They also found out that smoking gave the meat or fish a nice flavor.
But smoking can mean two things. One can either preserve the meat or cook it with smoking for the flavor. They discovered that when the meat or fish lasted for a long time while delivering a great flavor, when it was dried by way of smoking.
How it all started
Rich people in the olden days had a smoke house built where they could hang their meat and place a smoker in the middle. The smoker was just a large metal container where they placed wood or wood chips and let it smoke. First they would light it then put out the fire so it would just be embers and the wood would smoke. Those who were not as rich would just hang their catch of fish or meat high over their fireplace near the ledge. They would make sure that the fire was out and place ashes or wood shavings which were still moist over the embers to prevent fire and to produce smoke. The only problem was that their whole house would also be smoky.
After the smoking and the meat dried, it could be kept at room temperature because the smoke and heat would kill the bacteria as it has some kind of chemical reaction or compound which prevents the bacteria from growing. The main reason for preserving the protein meat during the hunting season was to make sure that they had some protein during the lean months or winter season when game hunting wasn’t really available.
Discovery by accident
So smoking in reality was discovered by accident. Man has been trying to preserve his food and meat, but he only discovered the art of smoking after fire was discovered or invented. People also discovered that rubbing salt on the meat would give it more flavor and last longer.
Evolution of Smoking
Now in modern times, smoking is easier and faster. You also have the regular charcoal smoker and the electric smoker. In some places they smoke fish, pork, beef and strips of lamb or chicken and others who can’t afford a smoker or don’t have the time to cook can buy it from them. It has become a delicacy in many places. We are now able to experiment with the taste and methods of smoking due to technology.
Even though we now have refrigeration as means of preserving, smoking is still popular. Smoking food is very popular especially in places where electricity is not available. It serves as the best way to preserve food and prevent it from rotting.
So, smoking food has been dated back to the prehistoric times and fish was probably the first kind of food to be smoked for preservation. To add facts to that theory, archeologists have found some proof in Poland where people used to smoke fish to preserve it, during the ninth century. However, times have changed now and people smoke their food for the flavor and serve right away instead of using it as means for preservation.