Title: Consider the Fork: How Technology Transforms the Way We Cook and Eat
Author: Bee Wilson
Publication Date: October 2012
Links: GoodReads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
My Rating: Four Stars
Since prehistory, humans have braved sharp knives, fire, and grindstones to transform raw ingredients into something delicious—or 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. Knives—perhaps our most important gastronomic tool—predate 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 kitchen—mortars 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.
I love books about food.
I've read books about Chinese food, about French food, about working in Keller's kitchens, and around the world. I have never come across a book that talked about the utensils.
Immediately, Wilson's upbeat, humorous narrative drew me in. Her obvious passion about the topic made me excited (and hungry...all that talk about Chinese stir-fry...). She organizes the book by utensil instead of by time period (which I expected). Personally, I loved the knife chapter. Did you know that during the Renaissance people carried their eating knives on them like we wear wristwatches today?
Little tidbits like that, interesting and humorous culinary exploits create a fascinating book. However, this book is for the ultimate foodie/nerd. Otherwise, I'd pick and choose which chapters tickle your fancy - it'd be food overload.
Final Thoughts: This book made me hungry.