is the act of preparing food
for consumption. The term is often used in the narrower sense of applying heat to chemically transform a food to change its flavor, texture, appearance, or nutritional properties. When humans mastered fire
thousands of years ago, cooking became a widespread cultural feature.
Effects of cooking
Heating can sterilize the food (depending on temperature, cooking time, and technique used), in addition to softening the food by turning collagen into gelatin. 45 to 140°F (or the roughly equivalent range 5 to 60°C) is the "danger zone" in which bacteria thrive, and which must be avoided for safe handling of meat, poultry and dairy products. Refrigeration and freezing do not kill bacteria, but slow their growth.
Living foods diet adherents advise against the use of heat in the preparation of food: they believe that temperatures above 106°F (41°C) destroy essential enzymes in the food, which they believe are necessary for proper digestion and nutrition.
Some major hot cooking techniques:
Other (cool) preparation techniques
Specific techniques and ingredients are often regional. See Cuisine for information about the many regional and ethnic food traditions. Please see food writing for some authors of books on cookery, food, and the history of food.
For recipes, see the list of recipes
and the list of cocktails
. Also see staple (cooking)