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Preparation

While some food can be eaten raw, many foods undergo some form of preparation for reasons of safety, palatability, or flavor. At the simplest level this may involve washing, cutting, trimming or adding other foods or ingredients, such as spices. It may also involve mixing, heating or cooling, pressure cooking, fermentation, or combination with other food. In a home, most food preparation takes place in a kitchen. Some preparation is done to enhance the taste or aesthetic appeal; other preparation may help to preserve the food; and others may be involved in cultural identity. A meal is made up of food which is prepared to be eaten at a specific time and place.

Animal slaughter and butchering

The preparation of animal-based food will usually involve slaughter, evisceration, hanging, portioning and rendering. In developed countries, this is usually done outside the home in slaughterhouses which are used to process animals en mass for meat production. Many countries regulate their slaughterhouses by law. For example the United States has established the Humane Slaughter Act of 1958, which requires that an animal be stunned before killing. This act, like those in many countries, exempts slaughter in accordance to religious law, such as kosher shechita and dhabiha halal. Strict interpretations of kashrut require the animal to be fully aware when its carotid artery is cut.

On the local level a butcher may commonly break down larger animal meat into smaller manageable cuts and pre-wrapped for commercial sale or wrapped to order in butcher paper. In addition fish and seafood may be fabricated into smaller cuts by a fish monger at the local level. However fish butchery may be done on board a fishing vessel and quick-frozen for preservation of quality.

Cooking

The term "cooking" encompasses a vast range of methods, tools and combinations of ingredients to improve the flavor or digestibility of food. Cooking technique, known as culinary art, generally requires the selection, measurement and combining of ingredients in an ordered procedure in an effort to achieve the desired result. Constraints on success include the variability of ingredients, ambient conditions, tools, and the skill of the individual cooking. The diversity of cooking worldwide is a reflection of the myriad nutritional, aesthetic, agricultural, economic, cultural and religious considerations that impact upon it.

Cooking requires applying heat to a food which usually, though not always, chemically transforms it, thus changing its flavor, texture, appearance, and nutritional properties. Cooking proper, as opposed to roasting, requires the boiling of water in a container, and was practiced at least since the 10th millennium BC with the introduction of pottery. There is archaeological evidence of roasted foodstuffs at Homo erectus campsites dating from 420,000 years ago.

Cooking equipment and methods

There are many types of cooking equipment used for cooking. Ovens are one type of cooking equipment which can be used for baking or roasting and offer a dry-heat cooking method. Different cuisines will use different types of ovens, for example Indian culture uses a Tandoor oven is a cylindrical clay oven which operates at a single high temperature, while western kitchens will use variable temperature convection ovens, conventional ovens, toaster ovens in addition to non-radiant heat ovens like the microwave oven. Ovens may be wood-fired, coal-fired, gas, electric, or oil-fired.

Various types of cook-tops are used as well. They carry the same variations of fuel types as the ovens mentioned above. cook-tops are used to heat vessels placed on top of the heat source, such as a saut� pan, sauce pot, frying pan, pressure cooker, etc. These pieces of equipment can use either a moist or dry cooking method and include methods such as steaming, simmering, boiling, and poaching for moist methods; while the dry methods include saut�ing, pan frying, or deep-frying.

In addition, many cultures use grills for cooking. A grill operates with a radiant heat source from below, usually covered with a metal grid and sometimes a cover. An open bit barbecue in the American south is one example along with the American style outdoor grill fueled by wood, liquid propane or charcoal along with soaked wood chips for smoking. A Mexican style of barbecue is called barbacoa, which involves the cooking of meats and whole sheep over open fire. In Argentinia, asado is prepared on a grill held over an open pit or fire made upon the ground, on which a whole animal is grilled or in other cases smaller cuts of the animal.

Raw food

Certain cultures highlight animal and vegetable foods in their raw state. Sushi in Japan is one such cuisine that features raw sliced fish, either in sashimi, nigiri, or maki styles. Steak tartare and salmon tartare are dishes made from diced or ground raw beef or salmon respectively, mixed with various ingredients and served with baguette, brioche or frites. In Italy, carpaccio is a dish of very thin sliced raw beef, drizzled with a vinaigrette made with olive oil. A popular health food movement known as raw foodism promotes a mostly vegan diet of raw fruits, vegetables and grains prepared in various ways, including juicing, food dehydration, not passing the 118 degree mark, and sprouting.

Restaurants

Many cultures produce food for sale in restaurants for paying customers. These restaurants often have trained chefs who prepare the food, while trained wait-staff serve the customers. The term restaurant is credited to the French from the 19th century, as it relates to the restorative nature of the bullions that were once served in them. However, the concept pre-dates the naming of these establishments, as evidence suggests commercial food preparation may have existed during the age of the city of Pompeii, as well as an urban sales of prepared foods in China during the Song Dynasty. The coffee shops or cafes of 17th century Europe may also be considered an early version of the restaurant. In 2005 the United States spent $496 billion annually for out-of-home dining. Expenditures by type of out-of-home dining was as follows, 40% in full-service restaurants, 37.2% in limited service restaurants (fast food), 4.7% in hotels and motels, 6.6% in schools or colleges, 5.4% in bars and vending machines, 4.0% in recreational places, and 2.2% in other which includes military bases.

Food manufacture

Packaged foods are manufactured outside the home for purchase. This can be as simple as a butcher preparing meat, or as complex as a modern international food industry. Early food processing techniques were limited by available food preservation, packaging and transportation. This mainly involved salting, curing, curdling, drying, pickling, fermentation and smoking. During the industrialization era in the 19th century, food manufacturing arose. This development took advantage of new mass markets and emerging new technology, such as milling, preservation, packaging and labeling and transportation. It brought the advantages of pre-prepared time saving food to the bulk of ordinary people who did not employ domestic servants.

At the start of the 21st century, a two-tier structure has arisen, with a few international food processing giants controlling a wide range of well-known food brands. There also exists a wide array of small local or national food processing companies. Advanced technologies have also come to change food manufacture. Computer-based control systems, sophisticated processing and packaging methods, and logistics and distribution advances, can enhance product quality, improve food safety, and reduce costs.

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