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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 4 March 2017
Bought this for father in law and he found this book perfectly balanced between story and factual historical information about how we in the modern age have benefited from age old methods. He particularly loved telling us how this book told him about when man created the pickling of food version and how they came about sealing products in jars and tins for the men in the army and how that came about and how the story unfolds that the tin opener wasn't invented until some 100+ years later but now the tin opener is practically obsolete as we have created both electronic tin opener and a ring pull top. He would definitely recommend this book, can't wait to order another book for him.
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on 28 May 2017
An informative account on the use and historical development of cutlery and other kitchen utensils within the family kitchen. An interesting read for those who are fascinated and intrigued about the tools that are used frequently in the kitchen
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on 2 May 2016
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 history
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 January 2015
A fun, well-written history that gets you thinking about the complicated stories behind the simple things we take for granted in the kitchen.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 October 2012
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an utter joy. Like many, I suspect I have been a competent user of the day to day tools in my kitchen, without ever thinking about the relationship between those tools and the very food that I eat, or the way I eat them.

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. This great culinary leap forward also opens the way to obesity as an unwanted side effect - starches and sugars become easily available and we have to expend little energy to get at them - an apple eaten raw has the same number of calories as the same apple stewed - but the body uses more energy to obtain the energy from the raw apple.

I grew up with stainless steel cutlery as the norm (steel alloy with chromium) - so had no idea that the earlier incarnation of steel cutlery (carbon steel) would corrode and react with the acid in foods to produce a nasty tainted taste on foods. Hence the reason why the French still think salad leaves should be hand torn, not cut (a residue from days when knives plus vinaigrette caused that acid reaction) and why the well-off would have silver fish knives - silver plus a squeeze of lemon juice on fish, fine, carbon steel plus lemon juice - eeeukk to the taste buds.

And, finally, I could go on and on plucking out delectable titbits of info to wave at you, pronged on my stainless steel fork - what WE think of as `roasting' as in `roast beef' is in fact baking, as in `baked beef'. The root of the word roast has the same origin as rotate, and comes from the spit roasting of food stuffs over an open fire/flame, the meat rotated for even cooking and a collecting vessel below to catch the juices. A completely different (and by all accounts) highly superior flavour and texture compared to oven baked meat

I better stop here, and waste no more of your time, but encourage you to get this lovely book and its charming line drawings, and delightfully spear some snippets for yourself, on a very old, point- ended table knife!
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on 2 January 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
When we cook, Bee Wilson writes, 'we draw on the tools and ingredients we have to hand, governed by the rules and taboos and memories we all carry in our heads about cuisine'. "Consider the Fork" is an exploration of the tools and techniques we use when cooking, their history and how they have been shaped by our culture and how our culture shapes them.

Discussing Chinese cookery, for example, Wilson describes how most of the food is cut finely during preparation with one all-purpose knife; this means that in a country where fuel was scarce the ingredients could be cooked very quickly in a wok with the large relative surface area of the pieces allowing for flavour maximisation. When the food is brought to the table it can be eaten with chopsticks - there is no need for a knife - and the use of chopsticks brings its own rituals and taboos. In England, by contrast, fuel was plentiful and it could be used (by the wealthy at least) to spit-roast massive pieces of meat over many hours, the large chunks of meat leading to different habits and tools at the table.

The example above is just one of many discussions in this interesting book. In eight chapters Wilson discusses pots and pans, knives, heating and cooling methods, measurement, grinding, cutlery (or lack of it), and kitchen design. "Consider the Fork" is packed with facts and anecdotes and Wilson is an engaging and sensible guide. Sometimes I felt the book was overly repetitive with the same point being made in different ways and I am very suspicious of Wilson's etymology of 'batterie de cuisine' on page 51, but overall this is a book I would recommend to anyone interested in the culture of cookery.
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VINE VOICEon 5 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an unusual book, one which would make a great gift for chefs and cooking lovers alike. It would also be an interesting read for quiz lovers - lots of interesting facts that may just give extra points on a quiz or the answer to a tie breaker.

The book concentrates on all things kitchen - not just food, but the implements and crockery too. The author looks at the various tools and implements which are used everyday. It was a fascinating and entertaining read. The author had researched her topic well and included little known facts alongside an informative read.

It looks at cooking and kitchens through the ages - but did not concentrate on the cooking, as many history books do, but on how the cooks cooked and what they used.

A great book - one which can be dipped in and out of.
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VINE VOICEon 14 April 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Fantastic, well rounded history of items and utensils used in kitchens of all ages (and before there were kitchens!). I am a sucker for histories of everyday items (like "A History of the World in 100 Objects") and this hit the spot! From the humble rock to the SousVide water cooker, everything is talked through in detail and humour... and I now know what a Runcible Spoon is!

There's also a comprehensive bibliography and a section called "further reading" with other titles in the same genre if you want more of the same (which I do).

The only criticism I can give is the introduction is too long. I wanted to delve straight in to the book, but the intro went on with too much (I thought) detail.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Bee Wilson has produced a really detailed work on just how the kitchens /dining rooms that we have around us today developed. The evolution of individual items such as knives, forks and saucepans is examined, along with the actual methods of cooking - from open fires, through spit-roasts and ranges to microwaves and water baths.

It will be of interest to a wide range of readers - chefs, social historians, foodies and trivia buffs. Bee is a very readable writer and holds the interest of the reader with so many fascinating facts.

There's one question she didn't answer - in her brief jacket biography she states that her favourite kitchen implement is a 'potato ricer.' Is it just me, who bought a ricer, used it once and thinks Bee's definitely being ironic with that statement?
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 21 February 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a book of who came up with what as regards to the kitchen.

Ever wanted to know who came up with what device - those items that you use every day - then this book may well point you in the right direction.

The problem is that it is all monochrome, there isn't a single colour image in the entire book to break up the monochromic tome and that is such a shame as the information is quite interesting. It does read, however, like a research dissertation of a history major.
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