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Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook…

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat

by Bee Wilson

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  1. 00
    Much Depends on Dinner: The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal by Margaret Visser (nessreader)
    nessreader: Both erudite but non-academic histories of food (visser) and what we do to food (wilson) that make the everyday fresh.

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My husband and I listened to this audiobook over the course of a few road trips. I don't think it would have kept my attention if I had to listen to it all in one go. Some parts were interesting, other parts were boring. It's very detailed, which is only a plus during the interesting parts. It's worth a read if you are already interested in the topic. ( )
  ladonna37 | Sep 5, 2016 |
Bee Wilson traces the history of how our environment and cooking equipment have shaped our cuisine and eating habits. A fascinating book that will change the way you look at food and cooking. ( )
  Katya0133 | Aug 2, 2016 |
A very readable history of ways in which technology shapes our food and culture, and vice versa. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Though they deal with different subjects, Bree Wilson's "Consider the Fork" reminded me a lot of Barbara W. Tuchman's "A Distant Mirror." There was so much blood, poverty, disease and generalized mayhem in that book that, you couldn't help but think that, as awful as the twentieth century could be be, it beat living in the Middle Ages by a country mile. "Consider the Fork" contains a ton of interesting facts about how humans have cooked and cook now, but when I finished it, I was grateful that I'm a cook now, instead someone who had to get dinner together a few hundred years ago. Blazing iron ovens, open furnaces, seven-year-olds made to turn spits over open fires, bakers working under conditions so torturous that they worked almost naked, tenements and cottages where cooking took place in the same space that people lived and slept? Ugh, the author doesn't hesitate to give you more reasons to think that the past could be an absolutely awful place. Heck, before 1940 or so, it was would be a stretch to argue that anyone, anywhere cooked for the sheer enjoyment of it, as many people do now.

"Consider the Fork" is also a great read because the author obviously has a notably profound understanding of her subject. She's tried many of the techniques she describes, and has seen many others demonstrated. She doesn't hesitate to share her experiences with her readers. Several larger themes also run throughout the entire book: what makes a cooking implement useful? Why do some cooking techniques fail why other get adopted, while others are forgotten? Why do we tend to fear new cooking technologies, and how do we get over those fears? She views cooking and its equipment as the product as a kind of anthropological evolution in which unscientific but very resourceful did what it was necessary in order to survive. Some of the arguments she makes are very compelling indeed. She also doesn't hesitate to point out that, for much of human history, cooking was exhausting, dangerous, thankless, and largely unrewarding work. In fact, she argues that what we find valuable and admirable in cooking depends, to a large extent, on how much someone had to sweat over it. In a sense, Wilson looks to find the genesis of a gentler, more humanistic cooking, where the opinions and comfort of the people doing the work are prioritized. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the inventions she praises were thought up by women, who have, over the years, done most kitchen-related work. This implies a leftish political slant, which may turn off some readers. But it's not to feel a sense of outrage and pity when you read recipes that ask you to beat eggs until "one or two kitchen helpers are wearied." I'm not much for high-tech cooking, but "Consider the Fork" made me feel grateful for the humble, effective kitchen implements that I do have. ( )
  TheAmpersand | Jan 28, 2016 |
Well worth the the read! This is a bit like reading a Bill Bryson book. Its an eclectic slightly haphazard history of why we eat what we eat through a study of kitchen implements. The items discussed range from fire (and the stove) to the Cuisinart. If you like books about cooking or history you should read this book! ( )
  cygnet81 | Jan 17, 2016 |
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What new intellectual vistas remain to be conquered by the food obsessive? Now that "consumer ethics", philosophy, spiritualism and history may be studied exclusively through the steamed-up spectacles of the orally fixated, and there are studies of individual foodstuffs as well as monographs on historic-moments-in-food (what Churchill gobbled at state dinners; what you could have scarfed on the Titanic before drowning), where else can swollen-stomached literary foodism waddle off to? The erudite and witty food writer Bee Wilson has spotted a gap in the market. "There have been books on potatoes, cod and chocolate and histories of cookbooks, restaurants and cooks," she reminds us, but not yet a general history of food technology. So her survey takes in everything from the long-ago invention of pots and pans, through changing habits of cutlery use and different ways to harness combustion, right up to the absurdist laboratory furniture of today's kitchen "modernists" such as Heston Blumenthal.......
added by marq | editThe Guardian, Steven Poole (Oct 24, 2012)
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For my Mother
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A wooden spoon - most trusty and lovable of kitchen implements - looks like the opposite of "technology," as the word is normally understood.
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This book offers a novel approach to food writing, presenting a history of eating habits and mores through the lens of the technologies we use to prepare, serve, and consume food. It tells the history of food through its tools across different eras and continents to present a fully rounded account of humans' evolving relationship to kitchen technology. From the birth of the fork in Italy as it discovered pasta, to culture wars over shaped how and what we cook. Encompassing inventors, scientists, cooks and chefs, this is the previously unsung history of our kitchens.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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