We take the world we are born into for granted-we tend to accept that everything around us has always been around in some form or another-even when the world we were born into has changed, and continues to change, around us. Consider The Fork delves into the world of food preparation and consumption and how technology has changed our relationship to what we eat and how we eat it.
Author Bee Wilson talks about such things as how to really roast meat, why silver isn’t a good material for chopsticks, and what the end of slave labor has to do with the invention of the ideal kitchen. These stories are all fun and interesting-I loved the occasional tangent on such topics as the Spork and Boil In The Bag gourmet meals. The story winds from prehistory to the current fad for cooking with science and using tools like an anti-griddle which flash freezes food.
Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat was a fun book and I was a bit sad when it rolled to a close. I listened to the audio book version and Alison Larkin does a great job as reader, though I did find her occasional switches from British to American accent a bit distracting.
Any book is a reflection of it’s author and Consider The Fork is no different. Bee Wilson tends to mix her history and her sense of humor-such as when she says “To the woman who has just acquired an electric blender, the whole world looks like soup.” Who hasn’t acquired a new kitchen gadget and not used it to excess in the first two weeks? She also shares her opinion that there wasn’t a decent can opener until the 1990s and that vegetable peelers have only become really useful since the introduction of the Oxo Peeler. She goes into some detail on kitchen fad items and talks at length about the egg beater boom of the 1880s.
Bee mentions near the beginning of Consider the Fork that she has a French Press she used in 1990s and now prefers a machine to make her coffee. I can relate to that. Consider The Fork isn’t just about history, it’s about personal history. It’s about doing some things the same way your mother did and doing other things completely different from the way your mother did. It’s about change, the one constant in the kitchen as in the rest of life.