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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

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    334
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    126
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

47 of 49 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

57 of 60 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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!

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

When you come to a fork in the road...

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. A quality Reader and an interesting history of the "spoon" and then the "fork". Not a fiction, but a bit of trivia and science. Worth the listen, if you want something different from the usual fare on your plate. Have you ever stopped to consider what our Ancestors ate with? A sharp stick to start with maybe, but a some point, someone wanted to eat soup. :)

What was one of the most memorable moments of Consider the Fork?

The facts and those things that one rarely, if ever, thinks about.

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

Laugh or Cry? No. Visualize, wonder and be amazed here and there? Yes

Any additional comments?

A story one may read, in bits and pieces, without worrying about the past chapters, and the plot!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of my favorite books

What did you love best about Consider the Fork?

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.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • pmb
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan United States
  • 08-30-14

Great book marred occasionally by the narration

If you could sum up Consider the Fork in three words, what would they be?

Fascinating to read

What did you like best about this story?

It's detailed treatment of the subject.

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Overall the narration was very well done with one critical flaw. Whenever the narrator would quote a French person or an American she would adopt a French or American accent. This enormously marred the experience. For a few reasons, first in the case of the French accent it made no sense. The person she was quoting wasn't speaking in English. Second, she didn't do this for all accents. Third she did try it once for a Chinese accent and ended up sounding like a bad Indian accent.

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

The affected accents were **TERRIBLE**

Any additional comments?

This is a non-fiction piece not a interpretive piece of art. NO NO NO ACCENTS!

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Sean
  • BELVEDERE TIBURON, CA, United States
  • 10-24-12

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.

17 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Informatively Whimsical

A great look at the evolution of cooking technology that blends history with a light humor and realistic examination of the role of cooking and the tools used to do so.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

An Unexpected Favorite

The performance of this audiobook is exceptional. While listening to it and cooking in my own kitchen, I find myself inspired, affirmed in the work I am doing, and connected with the long history of humans and our food.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great even for non-cooks

I detest cooking and I'd never given much thought to the history behind cooking implements, but this was a fascinating listen. It's well-researched and accessible, and you can tell Wilson had fun gathering material and constructing a narrative around the history. I'll probably listen to it more than once to pick up on details that slipped by the first time.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful