Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Jumbo burger

There was an interesting find recently in the Czech Republic. It was reported as the 'World's Oldest Barbecue' and was a 4' roasting spit, alongside cooking tools and the butchered bones of various animals - fox, bear, deer, and mammoth included. The site was dated at around 31,000 years old.

There seems to have been quite regionalised hunting techniques, generally to make the most of the animals available to hunt in any given area. In some areas where there would be a range of options, though, it looks like there was further specialisation. Some sites show weapons were developed to hunt mammoth; in others hunters seemed to concentrate on smaller prey. Were they just scared? Was this some lifestyle choice? Did they have some sort of pact with the mammoth? We may never know. They may have had the right idea, though. We're used to getting our meat pretty easily. Think about what the poor caveman had to do to get a few steaks. Heading out with a sharp stone tied to a stick, looking for a huge, hairy elephant to prod to death...

There are a few stories about scientists eating mammoth meat from Siberian permafrost finds. These probably stem from the Berovska mammoth, found in 1900. The meat, when still frozen, looked in good enough condition to be edible, even appetising. Some was fed to the expedition's dogs and was eaten without complaint - but dogs tend not to be overly fussy. Once thawed, the meat was apparently a little less appealing, but a couple of bites were taken by some intrepid folk.

More stories are told about Siberian natives eating frozen mammoth meat, though; enough to suggest they are likely to be true. The main difficulty is keeping the ketchup in liquid state.

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