an imaginative look a palaeolithic life

paleo bread recipe

Okay, well there’s been all this talk in health and fitness circles about the paleo diet, which is not too bad an idea but some versions of it rather irrationally eliminate all grains and legumes, and it has spawned foods like this paleo bread, which clearly has been baked in a metal container in a modern oven, sliced on a machine and wrapped in plastic…

palaeolithic bread wrapped in plastic

….. this got me thinking about whether it’s possible to make anything vaguely resembling bread from gathered wild wheat, using only palaeolithic technology.  Well I got my Homo sapiens sapiens brain with its increased capacity for innovation and cultural adaptation into gear, and realised that not only is it possible to make something that vaguely resembles bread using only palaeolithic technology, it’s actually possible using only middle palaeolithic technology.

Here’s how it could, in theory, be done.  (Bear in mind that I’ve never actually tried this and as I struggle to make a decent flatbread on a modern stove, it’s probably best if you don’t ever rely on this actually working in the real world.  If you want to live with only middle palaeolithic technologies, then stick to barbecued meat and whatever fresh plant foods you can get your hands on)

Warning to the faint hearted: this is a humorous post involving middle palaeolithic technology.  It’s quite common for modern people to be grossed out by certain aspects of middle palaeolithic culture.  If you’re in that category, then this probably isn’t the post for you, so you might want to try reading a different one.

1. First gather your wild wheat.  I would imagine you’d need rather a lot of it.  Additionally, you’d need to live somewhere where wheat actually grows wild to begin with, and it has to be in season too.  But all things being as they should be, gather your wild wheat.

2.  Obtain a cranium.  This is going to be a bowl.  I’m not sure how easy it is to make a wooden bowl using middle palaeolithic stone tools, but I guess you could try that if you really object strongly to cannibalism.  Anyway, the best kind of cranium would be a Homo sapiens one, seeing as it’s dome shaped.  Homo neanderthalensis would probably work, or maybe even a Homo erectus one if you’re on a diet.  Not sure if animal craniums would be big enough.  Regarding the brains that you remove to access said cranium,  these are apparently rather good for tanning hides.  On the other hand, middle palaeolithic people were not aware of prion disease and a human brain is an excellent source of omega 3s.

3. Get two quite large stones with flat surfaces.  Large pebbles from a stream would be good.  use these as grinding stones, put the gathered wheat in between them and grind  it into a powder, and collect it in the cranium bowl.  Don’t worry about little bits of rock getting in with your freshly ground flour, it’s kind of like dietary fibre in a way and might contain some important minerals.

4. Mix the newly ground flour with some water to make a dough.  No need to add yeast, this is more like the unleavened flat breads you can get.  Middle palaeolithic sources of yeast are probably a lot more gross than eating someone’s brain and using their cranium as a bowl, so unleavened is probably safer.  (This does beg the question as to where neolithic people got the first yeast to make the first leavened bread though…)

5. Get one of the stones with a flat surface and leave it in the embers of a fire long enough to get extremely hot.  Flatten your dough into a flatbread shape, then place on the hot rock until it is cooked through.  You could attempt to turn it over, though I’m not sure what you can use as a spatula with only middle palaeolithic technology.

6. If you’re feeling really brave, eat the bread.

Disclaimer: this is not an authentic middle palaeolithic bread recipe, and it has not been tested.  Most ways in which human craniums could be obtained in modern times are totally illegal and could quite possibly get you sectioned before you even get as far as the criminal courts.  School science lab issue human craniums are not approved for culinary use.  Finally, actual middle palaeolithic people probably did not bother with any of the above, and just ate the wild wheat grains as they found them (and if they did use human craniums as bowls it would most likely have been after the original owner of the cranium died of natural causes).


One response

  1. Bread is really a pain in the butt to make. That’s why until recently, so many people ate porridge/oatmeal instead. Put your gathered wheat into a bag (leather, hide, cleaned out bladder, whatever,) mix it with water, maybe heat it up… dinner!

    May 7, 2015 at 00:05

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