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)
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.
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 book really blew my expectations. I love her comfortable style of writing and her witty comments. As I listened to the different chapters, I felt this incredible connection to her as a fellow lover of food. Really worthwhile, my only complaint would be that it did not come with attached pictures of the described contraptions.
An avid reader, who also loves to listen.
Don't get me wrong this book had some interesting facts and in particular I really enjoyed the second half and listening to the parts about the history of forks and even sporks was great. I also liked the part about the history of ice and the element of science into cooking and how the kitchen has developed over the years. Other than that though, I’m sad to say that this book really bored me, especially the first part. The narrator, a British woman, was also to my disliking as I found her accent adding to the boredom that I got from the material itself.
The reader was clearly, engaging and the tempo was very good. The writing was amazingly thought provoking.
I've been looking for other books as I've never read anything quite so engaging. It reminded me a bit of the James Burke show "Connections"
By far the chapter on Pots and Pans were quite interesting, and the one on refrigeration.
This was a great retrospective on food and cooking; however, I might have preferred it in the written form. Spending 2 hours a day in a car, 60 straight minutes on "forks" can make you a bit crazy. The narrator had an AMAZING British accent and I loved hearing her speak... even if it was only about forks! :)
yes. It explains a lot of cooking history, the reasons behind the do's & don't
I never thought about the history of cooking. I took a lot of the modern stuff for granted, as i expect many people do.
Clearly, a considerable amount of research has been made before producing this work. It does include a wide array of historical facts and anecdotes on a fascinating topic that is rarely covered elsewhere in such detail.
Sadly, insufficient efforts were given on actually organizing and writing the book. Though sections are devoted to specific topics such as forks, blenders and coffee makers, there is little structure in the material presented. Chronologically and geographically, the reader is constantly shifted from one point to another. One might think that a series of notes were simply attached with word processing software.
The situation is worsened by the numerous self-centered references to the author’s favourite breakfast, to the cup given by her husband featuring the portraits of the US presidents, to her mother, to her children, etc.
In the audio book version, the narrator quite fittingly has a rather maternal voice. The occasional imitations of foreign accents are however poorly rendered and outright annoying.
Overall, this work can hardly be recommended except perhaps (in written format) as a source of information on specific aspects of the cooking universe.
Fine art photographer, retired English professor, dog mom to an adorable Maltese mix, long-time Californian, genealogist, what else?
If you are a foodie or food history buff, you will enjoy this book. It's fascinating in its detail of kitchen equipment, appliances, and so on. It reminded me, in a way, of Bill Bryson's "At Home," another excellent book about the history of the home. It's a good read.
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