- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Penguin (24 Oct. 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141049081
- ISBN-13: 978-0141049083
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (114 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 43,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat Paperback – 24 Oct 2013
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A cracking good read, as enjoyable as it is enlightening (Raymond Blanc, Chef-Patron 'Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons')
Wonderful ... Witty, scholarly, utterly absorbing and fired by infectious curiosity (Lucy Lethbridge Observer)
[A] delightfully informative history of cooking and eating from the prehistoric discovery of fire to twenty-first-century high-tech, low-temp soud-vide-style cookery (ELLE magazine)
A graceful study (Steven Poole Guardian)
About the Author
Bee Wilson writes a weekly food column, 'The Kitchen Thinker' in The Sunday Telegraph, for which she has three times been named the Guild of Food Writers Food Journalist of the Year. Her previous books include The Hive: The Story of the Honeybee and Us and Swindled!. Before she became a food writer, she was a Research Fellow in History at St John's College, Cambridge. She has also been a semi-finalist on Masterchef. Her favourite kitchen implement is currently the potato ricer. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
In this wonderful unpicking of the humblest kitchen tools, pots and pans, eating implements, knives, the source of heat itself, Wilson throws open our long history, weaving in biology, sociology, politics, technology, and the very way society organises itself. And much more.
This is everyday social history of the highest order. Not only does she make some extraordinary, but, when you think about it, obvious connections, but her very conversational STYLE is engaging. I'm a bit of a lightweight really, and however interesting the subject matter I can't stay engaged by an author who is not gifted and skilful as a writer. And how Bee Wilson is.
For a couple of snippets - I had never considered that it was the leap from cooking food by direct heat - carcase over the fire - to the indirect cooking of something in liquid, that is: the need for a container so that the liquid can be heated by the fire and it is the heated water which heats the food - that opened the way to allow people who had lost their teeth through some trauma, to survive. Cooking vegetables and grains in water enables them to be turned into a mush which needs no chewing - and produces chemical changes. Some vegetables which contain chemistry which is toxic, could never be eaten until cooking vessels came into being - hard tubers can become soft when boiled, whereas cooked over a fire or within a fire are likely to be charred on the outside, and raw on the inside.Read more ›
Each chapter focuses on a particular feature of the culinary process, such as pots and pans, fire, the knife, and is then followed by a brief essay on a specific implement as an example of technological development. So 'Pots and Pans' leads to 'The Rice Cooker' and 'Knife' to 'Mezzaluna'. (The electric rice cooker has swept into most kitchens in Japan, Thailand and many other countries in a relatively brief time, transforming the time-consuming preparation and cooking of sticky rice. It is clearly not, so to speak, a mere flash in the pan.)
Along the way Wilson draws on anthropology, physics, geography and many other disciplines in charting not merely when technological changes occurred but also why and how such developments could be related to cultural practices, diet and so on. Earth cooking and stone boiling, for example, were sometimes retained as cooking processes long after the same culture had embraced clay pots in other areas of use, simply because the staples of that culture's diet did not create a significant need for small items of food to be separately conserved. Similarly, the shapes of spoons used in different locations would reflect the nature of that region's diet. (Obvious, one might say, but I imagine most of us have never attempted to follow through such thinking.)
The cooking practices of pre-history are fascinatingly explored as well as developments from Roman times to the present day.Read more ›
What is an aluminium pot good or not good for? When and why would you use a wooden spoon or a metal spoon? What's the point of the point on a knife, or the squared-off bit near the hilt? The author certainly lifts the lid on many aspects of the kitchen that are taken for granted, but the real interest lies in the usefulness of this knowledge to producing better food. The humble cooking pot, for example, has a lengthy history, but its development points the way to choosing the right pot for particular ingredients or a given recipe. Surprisingly, the titular fork doesn't merit its own chapter, though it does get a few pages to itself, and plenty of mentions elsewhere.
The book has a few line-drawings but lacks good quality illustrations and photographs. Describing pot shapes is fine, but a few photographs would help the text. It is a very useful book though; well worth a read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A must have for people interested in the history of food and food utensils. Very well documented and lots of bibliography for further reading.Published 6 months ago by Ricardo Schillaci
Always fascinated by why we eat what we eat and culinary cultural differences and this book is a great addition to my collection of books about food culture and historyPublished 7 months ago by PoliticalGeek
I wish history lessons at school had been this absorbing! In her book Consider The Fork Bee Wilson has woven a narrative thread encompassing times both ancient and modern, and... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Maximus
Very easy to read, packed with information and history. I've learned a lot and the world of cooking makes a bit more sense now (for example where the american cup system comes... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Ioana
Very well written. I have learned an enormous amount. I am very glad that chance brought me to this book. I am an enthusiastic cook and eater. Read morePublished 12 months ago by selective reader
Bee Wilson is an excellent writer on matters of food history. I bought this book for work purposes rather than my own leisure reading.Published 15 months ago by paula wrightson
An excellent history of the basic utensils we use to cook and eat our food. The author weaves an enlightening and entertaining narrative of how our food cultures evolved. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Bobskid
A real unexpected treat. Brilliant history of the taken for granted.Published 19 months ago by Andy