In the high tech, fast paced society that we live in, it’s easy to take some things for granted. Case in point: the wood cutting board on which you’ll probably be preparing the evening’s dinner. Have you ever taken the time to think about the history of the cutting board? Where did it come from, and what did ancient civilizations use to cut their meats, fruits and vegetables?
Well, you won’t be in the dark about this subject anymore because here is a quick history of the wood cutting board.
Wood throughout the ages
Since the dawn of time, wood has been one of the most available materials used by mankind to build tools and lodgings, so it’s not really surprising to know that wood has been used in the preparation of food since the prehistoric ages. Of course, back then, cavemen probably used an unpolished slab of tree trunk to cut the kill of the day on and they probably didn’t think twice about saving it once the meal was over. Chances are they probably threw it in the fire with the rest of the wood needed to kindle it.
Advances in technology
Throughout the centuries, mankind evolved and started creating machines from steam, electricity and metal. When the circular saw was invented, nicer, cleaner slabs of wood were cut and used as cutting boards. Since soft wood was the most available type of wood at the time, it was the material of choice for to be used for cutting boards. Boards were made smaller since the slab of wood could now be cut to any desired size. Since they were made smaller, they were also used to eat off of and some people referred to them as trenchers. Trenchers were originally pieces of stale hard bread that were used as substitute plates. Wood trenchers quickly became the replacements of the eatable dinnerware.
The butcher block: the cutting board’s larger cousin
In the industrial ages, many industries rapidly developed, and the butchery industry followed this trend as well. Before the invention of the cutting board, butchers used tree rounds to carve their meat on. The rounds were often too soft and they rapidly became unsanitary. Hard maple wood butcher blocks were the preferred choice of the industry. They were made to be extremely thick and durable, so durable in fact, that a butcher could use the same block for almost his entire career.
Cutting boards around the world
As cutting boards began to be more and more used in kitchens around North America, the rest of the world crafted such boards from different materials. The East used thick bamboo as their material of choice. Despite its frail appearance, bamboo is quite strong and made durable cutting boards and butcher blocks. Europe used maple in the crafting of their cutting boards while Persia used flat pieces of polished wood in their kitchens. The world then saw cutting boards that were being made from other materials like plastic and they came in all shapes and sizes, but they always served the same purpose, to provide a household with a safe, clean surface on which to prepare meals for their friends and family members.