A cooking cat

June 10, 2015 • 12:30 pm

by Greg Mayer

In today’s New York Times, there is a paean to a cast iron skillet with which Jocelyn Cooper, a music industry executive, prepares her grandmother’s traditional dishes. While we may marvel at the breadth of the Times‘ coverage that gives us a profile of a frying pan, what brings this to our attention is that in the accompanying, uncaptioned, photo, Ms. Cooper is joined in a pose exactly parallel to hers by her equally traditional tabby, who apparently has a similar, but appropriately downsized, skillet of its own.

Jocelyn Cooper and her cat (Dina Litovsky for the New York Times).
Jocelyn Cooper and her cat (Dina Litovsky for the New York Times).

A caption in the online version identifies the cat as Jo Jo Cooper.

Did cooking fuel human evolution?

April 21, 2009 • 7:41 am

In today’s New York Times, primatologist Richard Wrangham (at Harvard) is interviewed about his controversial theory of human evolution.  Wrangham posits that the invention of cooking food over fire, rather than eating it raw, was the important impetus for the evolution of many hominin traits, including big brains, upright posture, etc.  The theory is apparently about to appear in a new book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.”wrangham_

While I don’t find this theory extremely convincing — for one thing, there is no evidence for the use of fire before H. erectus (about 1.5 mya), which was already well advanced in bipedality and big brains.  Still, Wrangham is a smart guy and the short interview is well worth reading (including his account of how he ate like a chimp, including raw monkey).