It’s one of the best times to be alive when it comes to food. For the most part, we know what’s delicious and what’s not. Like, have you ever wondered who the first person to fry an egg was? How did they figure that out?
Some foods are even dangerous to eat, and at one point in history, our ancestors had to find out the hard way. By trial and error.
This AskReddit thread discusses foods that people wonder how someone found out it’s edible.
What food made you think how the frick did our ancestors find out this was edible?
Someone looked at that snotty-looking thing from a shell and thought “yeah I’m gonna put that in my mouth”
Coffee. Can’t eat the beans as-is; gotta roast ‘em first. Whoops, not yet; gotta grind ‘em. Hmm, not quite right yet, let’s pour water over them and drink the water. Hmm .. let’s try using *hot* water. Perfect!
Pufferfish; only a small part of the fish is edible and the rest is deadly poisonous, so how did they find out which bit was edible?
Lobsters. “Well this looks horrifying, I think I’ll taste it. “
The fruit of the Gympie-Gympie plant. It is also known as the suicide plant because its sting is so painful that there have been reports of people and animals taking their own life to escape the pain, which can last for days or even years. The sting is delivered by tiny hairs that cover the whole plant, yet someone was able to discover that if you painstakingly remove each hair from the fruit, it is edible.
Like, imagine finding this pepper, taking a bite, and then feeling your entire mouth feel like it is on fire. Then you decide it’s actually really good though and start including it into dishes to add spice.
Bread! Like how did someone put all the ingredients together to make the bread!! I think about it all the time.
Some mushrooms that require special preparation. Eat it raw or cook it like most other shrooms and you end up dead. Boil it 3-5 times, however, and it’s fine.
Edit: An example of a mushroom requiring this procedure is Gyromitra esculenta.
Honey. When something is guarded by swarms of easily pissed-off insects with poisoned a*s darts, you would think that would be enough of a deterrent that nobody would f**k with it.
Snails. Our ancestors must have been friggin’ starving!
“However, cassava is poisonous unless it is peeled and thoroughly cooked. If it is eaten raw or prepared incorrectly, one of its chemical constituents will be attacked by digestive enzymes and give off the deadly poison cyanide. As little as two cassava roots can contain a fatal dose.”
Castoreum. A sweet-tasting exudation that comes from glands near a beaver’s a*****e. “Damn this beaver a*s smells great, wonder what it tastes like?”
Yogurt and cheese. It’s like first of all they start drinking cow juice from cow titties. Then they save some for later. It goes off. Voila cheese
Usually poisonous, unless prepared thus:
“The traditional method is by gutting and beheading a Greenland or sleeper shark and placing it in a shallow hole dug in gravelly sand, with the now cleaned cavity resting on a small mound of sand. The shark is then covered with sand and gravel, and stones are placed on top of the sand in order to press the shark. In this way the fluids are pressed out of the body. The shark ferments in this fashion for 6–12 weeks depending on the season. Following this curing period, the shark is then cut into strips and hung to dry for several months. During this drying period a brown crust will develop, which is removed prior to cutting the shark into small pieces and serving.”
Yes! This! Like who looked at a piece of moldy cheese and was like ‘this is some seriously gourmet s**t!’
The Pokeberry/Pokeweed plant that grows in the southern US has edible leaves. Sort of.
If you eat them raw they contain a neurotoxin that will make you extremely sick or more likely kill you. If you cook them the toxin will still kill you. If you boil them, the toxin will still kill you.
So basically someone died after eating this stuff and their friends went “Well maybe if we boil it one more time” died and someone else went “Third times the charm?”
However, if you boil them, discard the water, boil again, discard the water, then boil one last time and discard the water again the leftover cooked plant is sort of edible.
Maple syrup. “Let’s poke a hole in this here tree, collect the sap, boil it for three days and see what happens”
Rice, who looked at a piece of thick grass and thought: “yeah, I’ll dry it out, bash it about then polish it and boil it just before it turns into a sloppy mess”
Nopales, a kind of cactus, and its fruit have been a staple in Mexico for millennia. I’ve always wondered what went through our ancestors’ heads. “That plant and its fruit are covered in thorns…I bet they’re delicious”.
Hmm, that purple thistle looks good…
Durian! It’s super spiky, it seems like it’d be tough to open (though I’m not 100% sure) and apparently it smells rank.
If the pigs are eating it, it must be f*****g delicious
cranberries. If I had tasted a cranberry without any knowledge of the berry, I would be certain it was poison.
Onions: “hmm, wonder if I can eat this bulb… OH MY GOD MY EYES! WHAT’S THAT SMELLL???”