Porridge Pots

Porridge Pots

Porridge Pots reminds us of the 1760’s English nursery rhyme we first heard on our mother’s lap that went something like this:  “Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold.  Peas porridge in the pot, nine days old.  Some like it hot, some like it cold.  Some like it in the pot  nine days old.”

We know about peas; and we know about porridge; but what is it about Porridge Pots that we don’t know?  How have cultural inventions of pots and other instruments associated with eating, affected our health?  Sadly, some of our most annoying health conditions today are directly related to the cultural inventions of instruments for eating and pots for cooking.

Porridge Pots also reminds us that sharp stones or shells were the first eating and cooking utensils long before pots.  The Aztecs of Mexico, used stone griddles as pots, and they are given credit for inventing the edible plate. What an amazing “green” invention.  We can thank them for the tortillas we love.

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 9.05.56 PM

When ancient peoples first learned to manage fire (and before they invented pottery), food was cooked over open pits with spits. Archaeologists have found leather bags they believe were used with boiling stones for cooking.  Stone griddles and stone bowls have also been found among the early hearths.  Soon after pottery was invented, eating utensils became necessary, especially the spoon for eating soups and stews.  If your interest is sparked, follow the links to learn the history of the common utensils we use for eating.





The rendering here is of cooking and storage vessels in Pompeii – 79 AD.  The next one is a photo taken in June 2014 of cooking and storage vessels, which were excavated by archaeologists from their actual historical locations.


Such historical changes have had lasting effects on human health.  How so?  The British food writer and historian, in her book, Consider the Fork, tells us how early inventions of cooking and eating utensils required, “Countless decisions–economic and social as well as those pertaining to design and applied engineering . . .” for every new object invented.  She explains in detail how some of these inventions have not been advantageous for our health.

Wilson enumerates some of these non-evolutionary health disadvantages: overbites, toothlessness, cavities, deaths by poisoning, and respiratory demise by severe indoor air pollution.  Even refrigeration has been linked to diseases, which are caused by no longer having advantageous bacterias in our gut; and obesity is linked to the technology of over-processed foods.  Pots, used not only for cooking but also for storage, often leads to foods losing their nutritive values.

American Anthropologist, C. Loring Brace’s theory is that cutlery, used from childhood on is what causes the common overbite, because rigorous chewing is not necessary.  However, cutlery is not the only culprit.  The same overbite is presumed to be caused by the use of chopsticks as well!  Using pots over an open fire led to numerous toddler deaths, as well as adult women deaths due to full dresses and long sleeves accidentally catching fire.  Designer pots made of copper later became the choice of elites, which caused death by copper poisoning.  Lack of teeth has never been found in the skeleton of ancient populations who did not use pottery for cooking.  Recent research reveals that less chewing of foods, with less wear and tear on teeth, actually leads to more cavities.

Some technological changes in cooking and eating of food has been beneficial and positive.  The gas oven, for instance, has saved millions of lives due to not having an open hearth in the home.  Still the World Health Organization estimates over a million people die every year in less developed countries from smoke from cooking inside without ventilation.  Following is a video, which shows you the very best pots for cooking today’s foods in today’s world.

There are many new and quirky innovations for utensils, which are very enticing to use; but as this video demonstrates, health considerations should come before anything else when choosing the right cooking tool or pot for porridge.  Follow this link to learn about the Chork, the Popcorn Fork, the Edible Spoon, the Trong and other new inventions to help us eat more efficiently.


Explore More in Cultural Anthropology – human culture changes the world everyday!

You May Also Like…

Culture of War Part I

Culture of War Part I 80th Anniversary of D-Day, Operation Overlord, WWII On Thursday June 6, 2024 is the 80th...

Culture, Health, and Wellness

Culture, Health, and Wellness

Culture, Health, and Wellness As of January 10, 2020, the WHO [World Health Organization] began using the phrase "2019...


Submit a Comment

Translate »