| 5.7°C Dublin

Twenty seminal moments in food

1 500,000-400,000BC: Homo erectus discovers how to control fire -- now they can cook.

2 10,000BC: People start using salt for preservation and flavouring.

3 Also 10,000BC: Organised agriculture begins in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East, giving us the first bread, beer and soup -- the single man's ideal diet.

4 7,000BC: The domestication of cattle gives milk, butter and beef -- the unhealthy man's ideal diet.

5 5,000BC: Potatoes begin to be cultivated -- the Irish man's ideal diet.

6 3,000BC: The first use of spices, which preserve food and open up a wide range of new flavours.

7 2,300BC: Pasta and noodles are invented.

8 1,200BC: Sugar is first properly cultivated, which leads nicely on to ...

9 500BC: The first pastries, which must hang around for several centuries as they wait for ...

10 9th century: The discovery of coffee -- the mid-morning snack is now complete.

11 14th century: Kebabs arrive on the scene, causing binge-drinkers everywhere to heave a sigh of relief.

12 15th century: The raw fish delicacy sashimi is first enjoyed in Japan.

13 16th century: Turkeys come to Europe and Bernard Matthews' ancestors celebrate.

14 1863: The first breakfast cereal is created from heavy bran nuggets, which doesn't sound half as tasty as ...

15 1886: Coca-Cola, first sold in this year.

16 1924: Clarence Birdseye -- that really was his name -- invents frozen foods.

17 1928: Sliced bread is delivered to the world -- the phrase 'the best thing since sliced bread' follows soon afterwards.

18 1953: The discovery of microwave radiation is marked by the arrival of TV dinners.

19 1962: Instant mash, a hideous-tasting but handy little item, goes on the market.

20 1982: Monsanto's scientists genetically modify a plant cell. Say hello to the food of the future -- who knows, it may say hello back.

Irish Independent