Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson – Book Review

Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson
Published by Basic Books

Whether you are an advocate of slow food or most of your nourishment comes from cans, the freezer, or drive-thrus, cooking and eating are integral parts of your daily life. But just how did we get to where we are today? Remember, at one point humankind didn’t even have mastery of fire. Now we have gas or electric ranges, rice cookers, regular and convection ovens, sous vide machines, and much more.

In Consider the Fork,Bee Wilson traces the development of many aspects of cooking and eating, including cutting implements, heat sources, cooling sources, and eating utensils. Although her focus is primarily Western Europe and, later, the United States and Canada, she does make mention of Asian innovations from time to time, particularly the Chinese ton knife and, of course, chopsticks.

Consider the Fork is chock full of interesting things that you never knew about the ways that we cook and eat, such as the fact that the act of cutting food before we eat it (knife and fork eating in the West, ton and chopstick eating in China) actually seems to have changed the alignment of our mouths; an overbite is not helpful if you’re ripping all of your food with your teeth. Although that is the factoid that most impressed and stuck with me, Consider the Fork is packed with similarly fascinating information, such as how a woman from Boston influenced the United States into measuring things in cups, when weight is a much more useful and accurate measure for dry ingredients.

A perfect read for both foodies and those interested in histories of specific objects, Consider the Fork is fascinating and a great read. Highly recommended.

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