An interesting new book, Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham.
"Contrary to the dogmas of raw-foods enthusiasts, cooked cuisine was central to the biological and social evolution of humanity, argues this interesting new book. Harvard biological anthropologist Wrangham dates the breakthrough in human evolution to a moment 1.8 million years ago, when, he conjectures, our forebears tamed fire and began cooking.
Starting with Homo erectus these innovations drove anatomical and physiological changes that make us adapted to eating cooked food the way cows are adapted to eating grass. By making food more digestible and easier to extract energy from, cooking enabled hominids' jaws, teeth and guts to shrink, freeing up calories to fuel their expanding brains. It also gave rise to pair bonding and table manners, and liberated mankind from the drudgery of chewing.
This accessible book ranges across nutritional science, paleontology and studies of ape behavior and hunter-gatherer societies; the result is a compelling analysis of natural history and of cooking's role in daily life. Wrangham offers an interesting take on evolution—suggesting that, rather than humans creating civilized technology, civilized technology created us."