Ash Moves From the Fireplace to the Dinner Table

Emily Fiffer

The phrase “man invented fire” is more complex than you might remember from grade school. In fact, modern-day archaeologists are involved in a hot debate over the origin of the flame: Was it Homo erectus, Neanderthal or modern human? 1.8 million years ago or 12,000? There’s evidence to support every position; the conundrum has left scientists in a perpetual round of “Who cooked it first?”

Meanwhile, chefs are taking the heat our ancestors gave us to new heights. They...