The jug or the loaf?

“Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” is a question for paleontologists. Anthropologists ask a much more vexing question about bread and beer – it’s all mashed grains and yeast, but how’d we figure out how to make it *do* that? Well, we’re not exactly sure how, but we might have gotten a little closer to when:

…[B]eer is relatively easy to brew and can be made from just about anything—all you need is water, cooking heat and some form of carbohydrate, along with enzymes and yeast that are abundant in nature. (The yeast can come from fruit; the enzymes from saliva.) “It’s pretty darn easy to make,” Hastorf said. She cited colleagues who have advanced theories that humans first domesticated cereal crops to make beer, not just bread, and that humans evolved to associate ethanol, which is present in ripe fruit, with satiety. The various lines of evidence indicate that beer may well be as old as cooking itself, which began at least 250,000 years ago. “When people started harnessing fire and cooking, they probably started making beer,” Hastorf said.

[via Archaeological News]