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

Bee Wilson, Author
Bee Wilson. Basic, $26.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-465-02176-5
Reviewed on: 07/02/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-0957-7
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Hardcover - 404 pages - 978-1-84614-340-3
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Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-465-05697-2
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-0-14-196085-2
Ebook - 353 pages - 978-0-465-03332-4
Hardcover - 404 pages - 978-0-14-104908-3
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Some of humanity’s least sung but most vital gadgets are celebrated in this delicious history of cooking technology. Food historian Wilson (Swindled) surveys eons of cookware, from the Neolithic Age’s roasting spits and revolutionary clay pots—by enabling the preparation of mushy liquid foods, they kept toothless people from starving to death—to today’s programmable refrigerators and high-tech sous-vide cookers. She deftly presents a wealth of scientific lore on everything from the thermodynamics of boiling to the metallurgical properties of knives. But she is also alive to the social context—the medieval taste for highly refined and processed foods, she notes, relied on armies of exhausted kitchen maids whose constant grinding, sifting, and chopping made them the Cuisinarts of their day—and cultural resonances of cooking customs. (She contrasts the aggressive piercing and carving of food at Western knife-and-fork meals with the gentle gathering of bite-sized morsels by chopsticks at Chinese tables.) 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. (Oct. 9)
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