Commonly defined as the preparation of food through the application of heat, cooking has a long history behind it. Though its origins are not fully known, many food historians believe the practice of cooking meat began simply by chance and was the first cooking method to be created. Until sometime around the Paleolithic Period, roasting food over an open fire was the only culinary technique used by humans. It was during this time that people in the south of France began to steam their food; it is believed that the boiling of water began not long after.
As civilizations began to advance and create settled communities, domesticate animals, and cultivate plant life, the techniques used in cooking often advanced, as well. The introduction of pottery brought new cooking techniques, as did the discovery of new ways to preserve foods. By the year 3500 BC, Egyptians had begun making bread, while olives were being cultivated in Crete and mushrooms were used as a regular food by the Sumerians. Ancient civilizations began making use of spices and sugar around 2000 years later, with the first cookbook being written in Greece by 4 BC.
The continued advancement of society further advanced the practice of cooking, with the use of cast-iron stoves in Europe beginning in the 15th century. By 1742, the first cookbook in American had been published; while in 1765, the first modern version of a restaurant appeared in France. Since then, cooking has continued to grow to become the large industry that it is today.