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Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat | [Bee Wilson]

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

Since prehistory, humans have braved the business ends of knives, scrapers, and mashers, all in the name of creating something delicious - or at least edible. In Consider the Fork, award-winning food writer and historian Bee Wilson traces the ancient lineage of our modern culinary tools, revealing the startling history of objects we often take for granted. Charting the evolution of technologies from the knife and fork to the gas range and the sous-vide cooker, Wilson offers unprecedented insights.
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Publisher's Summary

Since prehistory, humans have braved the business ends of knives, scrapers, and mashers, all in the name of creating something delicious - or at least edible. In Consider the Fork, award-winning food writer and historian Bee Wilson traces the ancient lineage of our modern culinary tools, revealing the startling history of objects we often take for granted. Charting the evolution of technologies from the knife and fork to the gas range and the sous-vide cooker, Wilson offers unprecedented insights into how we've prepared and consumed food over the centuries - and how those basic acts have changed our societies, our diets, and our very selves.

©2012 Bee Wilson (P)2012 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"Wilson is erudite and whip-smart, but she always grounds her exploration of technological change in the perspective of the eternal harried cook - she's been one - struggling to put a meal on the table. This is mouthwatering history: broad in scope, rich in detail, stuffed with savory food for thought." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (323 )
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  •  
    Amazon Customer TALLAHASSEE, FL, United States 03-31-14
    Amazon Customer TALLAHASSEE, FL, United States 03-31-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Intriguing history of everyday utensils"

    This was a well-researched and well-presented book about the history of everyday utensils like the fork as well as appliances, kitchen designs, and almost anything pertaining to the preparation of food. Bee Wilson did an excellent job of presenting the material with interesting side notes about cultural changes that were created because of a change in the use of utensils or food preparation.

    Anyone with an interest in anthropology will find this an invaluable resource. Wilson details the usage of utensils not only in terms of their actual intended use but also in terms of their symbolism to society. She explores the choice of chopsticks over the fork, various spoon designs, how an entire society developed an overbite because of their choice of eating utensil, how advertisements for kitchen design were used to encourage women in the United States during war years, why it was considered bad form or a sign of wealth and taste to use one utensil over another, how the KitchenAid stand mixer and the Cuisinart food processor forever changed the way we cook, and why the state of Georgia in the United States is a leading manufacturer of disposable chopsticks for China.

    The narrator, Alison Larken, has a beautiful reading voice and rendered an exceptional performance.

    For anyone looking for an action-packed thriller, this is not the book for you. For anyone interested in anthropology, technological advancements in kitchenware, or why you prefer to use chopsticks over a fork or a fork over chopsticks, grab this book. You will never see your fork, spoon, knife, or chopsticks the same, again.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nothing really matters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 08-30-14
    Nothing really matters Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 08-30-14 Member Since 2014

    Rob Thomas

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    "For the foodie/science geek/history buff in you"

    This is a fun read if you like
    (1) cooking and being in the kitchen, and
    (2) books that explain the origin of things as well as the science and relevant historical facts.

    I do, so I thoroughly enjoyed it. The narrator's voice is also very pleasant to listen to. She made me laugh when she did her American and French accents.

    Fun book, neat information, and great narration.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. House Sr. Sherborn, MA, United States 07-10-13
    G. House Sr. Sherborn, MA, United States 07-10-13 Member Since 2015

    I am an avid listener. I listen between 75-100 hours per month on my iPhone: 60% fiction to 40% non-fiction.

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    "Great information if you play Trivail Pursuit"

    I have read a significant number of books of this ilk. I generally like the book. You lean about the history of this and that -- one of them being the fork. Although this book is packed with interesting information. There is nothing earth moving or should I should say cow moving. If you want to lean many numerous factoids, this is the book for you. For me it was just ok.

    9 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 10-24-12
    Sean BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States 10-24-12 Member Since 2014
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    "You'll see your kitchen in a new light"

    The book is a collection of historical sketches about various cooking implements. Although neither exhaustive nor comprehensive it manages to entertain and inform.

    There are many books on food history, but this is the first I've found on the history of pots, appliances and flatware. However, the author bites off a little more than she can chew and the writing becomes uneven and erratic. There are simply too many ingredients to do justice to all aspects of cookery.

    You will not learn any recipes from the book, but you will never look at your kitchen the same way again. I learned many fascinating facts (like the fact that Europeans have only had an overbite for about 200 years) and new appreciation for medieval recipes like "beat the eggs enough to tire one or two people." She draws interesting conclusions about how our cultural beliefs shaped the instruments we use to prepare and eat our food. She even makes a convincing argument about how the fundamental differences in Eastern and Western culture play out at the dining table.

    The reader delivers a solid performance in her British accent but she affects American, Southern and French accents for quotes. They are probably artistically authentic but they do not sit well in the ear.

    Overall, I enjoyed the book but it has problems with organization and pacing.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer United States 02-21-15
    Amazon Customer United States 02-21-15 Member Since 2012
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    "fascinating history of cooking and kitchens"

    I really enjoyed this book and learned quite a bit though I have read a fair amount of history. The reader did a great job.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Yolanda Fay 02-13-15
    Yolanda Fay 02-13-15
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    "Surprisingly riveting!"

    What a wonderfully weaved tale of technology, culture, and history! Bee Wilson looks at the developments of kitchen technology and their relationship to and impact on historical cultures. I thought this book would be one of novel little factoids about why things in the kitchen are as they are. It is that and so much more! From the cultural shaping of spoons and chopsticks to the reality (and often illusion) of female liberation in the kitchen, Wilson tells a fascinating tale about our cultural and technological history!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laura 02-10-15
    Laura 02-10-15
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    "Not worth the time"

    The author doesn't really cover any new ground in her subject choice, thought that claim is made in the introduction.
    It would only be interesting to someone with absolutely no knowledge of food history.
    The narrator's style is not one I enjoy; her rhythm is monotonous and the multiple accents she uses for quotations are poorly rendered, theatrical and irritating.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phil C. Jacksonville, FL 01-22-15
    Phil C. Jacksonville, FL 01-22-15 Member Since 2014

    Phil

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    "A nice change of pace"

    I purchased this title based on the recommendation of the Writing Excuses podcast. the subject matter is a little esoteric but the author and the narrator have managed to make it a thoroughly enjoyable listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sharon Seattle, WA USA 12-18-14
    Sharon Seattle, WA USA 12-18-14 Member Since 2015
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    "Dismal"

    Squeeky-voiced narrator telling rambling, disjointed facts. Decide for yourself if you're going to try the book!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gilbert 12-06-14
    Gilbert 12-06-14 Member Since 2008
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    "Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Ea"
    If you could sum up Consider the Fork in three words, what would they be?

    Little known facts


    What did you like best about this story?

    The depth of the information


    Did Alison Larkin do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Her accent was 'cute' but not what I would have expected from a book that delved into the history of the subject matter.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I was slightly annoyed by having to try to figure out the different meanings that are different between british and american. Words have different meanings and connotations, and sometimes I was taken aback by being unfamiliar with the differences...


    Any additional comments?

    I liked the info, but just slightly less due to the way it was presented.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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