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
"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)
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.
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.
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!
I am an avid listener. I listen between 75-100 hours per month on my iPhone: 60% fiction to 40% non-fiction.
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.
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.
I listened to this book a while ago, but I still find myself repeating anecdotes and explaining things I learned. It kicked off a real interest in food history, and is a fun and enjoyable read. I've recommended it to friends who have enjoyed it as well. One of my favorite books ever. The narration is alright, not particularly memorable but sometimes that's a good thing--less grating than Larkin's narration of Wilson's next book.
I am a good service professional and culinary historian. This book is outstanding. She relays great history in a wonderful antidotal way. If you find food anthropology interesting this is a must read.
Judith H. Taylor
I have listened to this book several times and know I will listen again. The narrator is delightful - for some reason, I do not care for female narrators' voices, but she is clever and great. The content is so interesting to me as a foodie and history buff.
I had just seen a documentary about living spaces in the UK and saw the "Frankfort" kitchen concept, developed in the late 50s to utilize space. She had an excellent explanation for their use.
Give it a try: I think you may be surprised at how jam-packed it is with the history of utensils, kitchens and how and why we eat as we do.
From a lay person stand point, this was an amazing look into the development of how we cook. There is a sweet sentimentality for where humanity began and cooking as a link to the past, as well as a genuine excitement and interest in new approaches and technology. Absolutely worth it!
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