Cooking or cookery is the art or practice of preparing food for consumption with the use of heat. Cooking techniques and ingredients vary widely across the world, reflecting unique environmental, economic, and cultural traditions. Cooks themselves also vary widely in skill and training. Cooking can also occur through chemical reactions without the presence of heat, most notably as in Ceviche, a traditional South American dish where fish is cooked with the acids in lemon or lime juice. Sushi also uses a similar chemical reaction between fish and the acidic content of rice glazed with vinegar.
Preparing food with heat or fire is an activity unique to humans, and some scientists believe the advent of cooking played an important role in human evolution. Most anthropologists believe that cooking fires first developed around 250,000 years ago. The development of agriculture, commerce and transportation between civilizations in different regions offered cooks many new ingredients. New inventions and technologies, such as pottery for holding and boiling water, expanded cooking techniques. Some modern cooks apply advanced scientific techniques to food preparation.
An alcoholic beverage is a drink that contains ethanol. Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes for taxation and regulation of production: beers, wines, and spirits (distilled beverages). They are legally consumed in most countries around the world. More than 100 countries have laws regulating their production, sale, and consumption. Beer is the third most popular drink in the world, after water and tea.
Alcoholic beverages have been consumed by humans since the Neolithic era; the earliest evidence of alcohol was discovered in Jiahu, dating from 7000–6600 BC. The production and consumption of alcohol occurs in most cultures of the world, from hunter-gatherer peoples to nation-states.
Drug subcultures are examples of countercultures that are primarily defined by recreational drug use.
Cookware and bakeware are types of food preparation containers commonly found in a kitchen. Cookware comprises cooking vessels, such as saucepans and frying pans, intended for use on a stove or range cooktop. Bakeware comprises cooking vessels intended for use inside an oven. Some utensils are both cookware and bakeware.
The choice of material for cookware and bakeware items has a significant effect on the item's performance (and cost), particularly in terms of thermal conductivity and how much food sticks to the item when in use. Some choices of material also require special pre-preparation of the surface - known as seasoning - before they are used for food preparation.
A microwave oven, often colloquially shortened to microwave, is a kitchen appliance that heats food by bombarding it with electromagnetic radiation in the microwave spectrum causing polarized molecules in the food to rotate and build up thermal energy in a process known as dielectric heating. Microwave ovens heat foods quickly and efficiently because excitation is fairly uniform in the outer 25–38 mm of a dense (high water content) food item; food is more evenly heated throughout (except in thick, dense objects) than generally occurs in other cooking techniques.
Percy Spencer invented the first microwave oven after World War II from radar technology developed during the war. Named the "Radarange", it was first sold in 1947. Raytheon later licensed its patents for a home-use microwave oven that was first introduced by Tappan in 1955, but these units were still too large and expensive for general home use. The countertop microwave oven was first introduced in 1967 by the Amana Corporation, which was acquired in 1965 by Raytheon.
Outdoor cooking differs substantially from kitchen-based cooking, the most obvious difference being lack of an easily defined kitchen area. As a result, campers and backpackers have developed a significant body of techniques and specialized equipment for preparing food in outdoors environments. Such techniques have traditionally been associated with nomadic cultures such as the Berbers of North Africa, the Arab Beduins, the Plains Indians and pioneers of North America, and have been carried down to and refined in modern times for use during recreational outdoors pursuits.
Currently, much of the work of maintaining and developing outdoor cooking traditions in Westernized countries is done by the Scouting movement and by wilderness educators such as the National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound, as well as by writers and cooks closely associated with the outdoors community.