Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eatby Bee Wilson
Since prehistory, humans have braved sharp knives, fire, and grindstones to transform raw ingredients into something deliciousor at least edible. Tools shape what we eat, but they have also transformed how we consume, and how we think about, our food. Technology in the kitchen does not just mean the Pacojets and sous-vide of the modernist kitchen. It/i>
Since prehistory, humans have braved sharp knives, fire, and grindstones to transform raw ingredients into something deliciousor at least edible. Tools shape what we eat, but they have also transformed how we consume, and how we think about, our food. Technology in the kitchen does not just mean the Pacojets and sous-vide of the modernist kitchen. It can also mean the humbler tools of everyday cooking and eating: a wooden spoon and a skillet, chopsticks and forks.
In Consider the Fork, award-winning food writer Bee Wilson provides a wonderful and witty tour of the evolution of cooking around the world, revealing the hidden history of everyday objects we often take for granted. Knivesperhaps our most important gastronomic toolpredate the discovery of fire, whereas the fork endured centuries of ridicule before gaining widespread acceptance; pots and pans have been around for millennia, while plates are a relatively recent invention. Many once-new technologies have become essential elements of any well-stocked kitchenmortars and pestles, serrated knives, stainless steel pots, refrigerators. Others have proved only passing fancies, or were supplanted by better technologies; one would be hard pressed now to find a water-powered egg whisk, a magnet-operated spit roaster, a cider owl, or a turnspit dog. Although many tools have disappeared from the modern kitchen, they have left us with traditions, tastes, and even physical characteristics that we would never have possessed otherwise.
Blending history, science, and anthropology, Wilson reveals how our culinary tools and tricks came to be, and how their influence has shaped modern food culture. The story of how we have tamed fire and ice and wielded whisks, spoons, and graters, all for the sake of putting food in our mouths, Consider the Fork is truly a book to savor.
Los Angeles Times
“Delightful.... [An] ebulliently written and unobtrusively learned survey.”
“[A] sparkling...fascinating and entertaining book.”
The Sunday Times (London)
“One part science, one part history, and a generous dash of fun.”
“Wilson's insouciant scholarship and companionable voice convince you she would be great fun to spend time with in the kitchen.... [She is] a congenial kitchen oracle.”
New York Times Book Review
“Fluid yet engaging, just like a good conversation over a pan of sizzling vegetables.”
“A delightfully informative history of cooking and eating.”
“Wilson is a good tour guide.... [A] dizzying, entertaining ride.”
Wall Street Journal
“A book to savour.... You will never look at a kitchen knife in the same way again.”
The Independent (London)
- Basic Books
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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Meet the Author
Bee Wilson is a food writer, historian, and author of three previous books, including Swindled: The Dark History of Food Fraud, from Poisoned Candy to Counterfeit Coffee, which was named a BBC 4 Book of the Week. Wilson served as the food columnist for the New Statesman for five years, and currently writes a weekly food column for The Sunday Telegraph’s Stella magazine. She was named BBC Radio’s Food Writer of the year in 2002, and was a Guild of Food Writers Food Journalist of the Year in 2004, 2008, and 2009. Wilson’s writing has also appeared in The Sunday Times, The Times Literary Supplement, The New Yorker, and The London Review of Books. Wilson earned her PhD from Trinity College, Cambridge and also attended the University of Pennsylvania on a Thouron Award fellowship.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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If you want a scholarly, in-depth examination of the history of cooking methods and utensils, there are probably other books out there better than this one. But if all you want is a readable briefing on the subject, this book will do the trick. The author uses a mixture of historical evidence and personal anecdotes to show us how our eating utensils came to be and how they have evolved over time. Some of the information she presents is fascinating, such as the fact that how we cut our food may actually have affected our bodies and led to the modern overbite. However, she tends to skim over the surface of most of the subjects she brings up. (I was hoping she would examine the whole topic of how and when the American or “zig-zag” method of eating developed. She does mention it, but only very briefly and without any details.) I did like how she presents everything from the perspective of the ordinary domestic cook who is just trying to put something edible on the table, even though she is obviously a gourmet chef herself. This book gave me an intriguing glimpse into the evolution of our eating tools, but left me wanting more. Note: the Nook version of this book has a lot of errors such as missing or strange punctuation and even some garbled sentences. Luckily, you can still decipher what is meant from the context.
An enchanting read
Enjoy food and food history? Enjoy looking at societal changes and foodways? Read this. If you're not a history buff, and are more interested in the food, skip to the food stuff. You'll still get the best parts of the book.
As a history of cooking and eating, Consider the Fork is a delight throughout. Bee Wilson wittily covers all kinds of arcane stuff about human culinary adventures through history--starting with why we learned to roast our meat way back when. Lots of fascinating details from anthropology, archeology, history, ethnology, and sociology about how and why we cook. And wonderful details about fads in cooking and kitchen equipment. (Are YOU still using your Cuisinart? How about your Romertopf?) She even points out the virtues of such commonplace tools as the whisk and the teaspoon. This book is a winner for anyone who likes to eat, likes to cook, or likes to accumulate kitchen equipment. This Christmas I'm giving a copy to each of my friends in those categories, for their delectation.
This story piqued my interest in the minute aspects of everyday activities in the kitchen. I'll never take my cooking "chores" for granted after reading Bee Wilson's marvelous research into cooking technology.