In this chapter we begin our exploration of the Paleolithic, those distant years when we evolved as a species and commenced our journey around the planet. This chapter deals with the most significant events that took place during the distant origins of humanity, those which are essential to understanding the beginnings of food, drink and cooking. In these pages we learn about our evolutionary predecessors – Homo habilis, Homo erectus and Homo neanderthalensis, and we discover how Homo sapiens originated.
We start by introducing the general context of the Paleolithic age: its main features and timeframe. Next, we examine the key events that marked this historical phase, divided into six major sections: those that occurred in nature, the events that affected the human body, mind and spirit, those related to the phenomenon of personality and, finally, those that marked the evolution of our ancestors’ activities. Among these milestones, the origin of creativity will occupy a special place, given that it is the motor that, in our opinion, propels history (both general history and the history of public culinary establishments). With this background knowledge, we are now ready to further explore the subject.