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What is smoking?
Smoking is a method of preserving food using a combination of heat, salt and smoke. Today, with the widespread use of fridges and freezers there is not a real need to preserve food in this way and the process would have died out years ago if it wasn’t for one thing – smoked food tastes delicious!
It is widely believed that smoking food and fish was a process discovered by chance rather than design. The preferred method ancient fisherman would use to preserve their catch would be to use a combination of wind, sun and salt. Using these three resources, a well salted and dried piece of fish could be kept indefinitely and required only a long soak in fresh water to become edible again.
You can picture the scenario, after hauling in a bumper catch, a group of fisherman hindered by rain and lack of wind are desperately trying to dry their catch over the open fire. They soon discover that fish dried in this way will not only last longer but take on a delicious smoky flavour. In these ancient times any method of food preservation that helped keep food for longer would have been a welcome discovery.
In addition to this there is one very important factor for the permeation of smoking throughout modern culture – fish preserved through smoking require less salt which was a highly valuable commodity. Even in these days people had to think of their profit margins!