This afternoon my mom and I were making sandwiches. Although we have a toaster oven, bread that’s toasted over a fire is always so much more delectable. So instead of using the toaster, and instead of building a fire on our suburban lawn, we toasted buns over the gas stove in our kitchen
I thought to myself that this use of the stove, or means of toasting bread, seems so much more controlled than baking bread, or warming it, over an open outdoor flame. Yet it’s still so much more ideal than using a toaster oven because I’m part of the cooking process, not the passive recipient of a piece of crisp bread that pops out of an electronic device onto my plate. Also, it’s fun. People don’t usually use gas stoves as literal fires– they take for granted that stoves are in houses to heat food that was foraged for in a grocery store.
This experience was meaningful for me because it got me thinking about the ways that domestic life has affected human survival. We not have stable shelters, refrigeration and storage of edibles, and clean water pouring freely from a tap. What do we need out instincts for? We need reflexes, still. You get too close to that flame and your hand will pull away before you’ve thought about it. But how do our basic survival instincts serve us, and will we lose the need for them through this modern way of life? If so, is that bad, or is it just different?