Cooking is the act of preparing food for consumption. It encompasses a vast range of methods, tools and combinations of ingredients to improve the flavour and/or digestibility of food. It generally requires the selection, measurement and combining of ingredients in an ordered procedure in an effort to achieve the desired result. Constraints on success include the variability of ingredients, ambient conditions, tools and the skill of the person cooking.
The diversity of cooking worldwide is a reflection of the myriad nutritional, aesthetic, agricultural, economic, cultural and religious considerations that impact upon it.
Cooking frequently, though not always, involves applying heat in order to chemically transform a food, thus changing its flavor, texture, appearance, or nutritional properties. There is archaeological evidence of cooked foodstuffs (both animal and vegetable) in human settlements dating from the earliest known use of fire.
Effects of cooking
If heating is used, this can disinfect (depending on temperature, cooking time, and technique used) and soften the food. 4 to 60°C (41 to 140°F) is the "danger zone" in which many food spoilage bacteria thrive, and which must be avoided for safe handling of meat, poultry and dairy products. Refrigeration and freezing do not kill bacteria, but slow their growth.
Some major hot cooking techniques:
Other (cool) preparation techniques
Specific techniques and ingredients are often regional. See Cuisine for information about the many regional and ethnic food traditions. Please see food writing for some authors of books on cookery, food, and the history of food.
For recipes, see the list of recipes and the list of cocktails. Also see staple (cooking).
Last updated: 08-16-2005 21:01:44