This is exactly the kind of book that appeals to my historian self. Yes, I’d love to read 300 pages about how the various technologies we use in cooking have changed over the course of recorded history. It’s also a boon to me when these types of books qualify as research for work and I am able to spend a couple days reading happily at work. I have done just that and with 10 pages of typed notes I have lots to work with as I move forward with my work calendar.
But, does this book hold appeal to you? Maybe. If you like history it will, if you like to cook and have always wondered why your whisk is the shape and material it is, then yes. If both of those things are completely out of your normal interest than I would say to stay away. Here’s the recap from Goodreads to help you decide:
In Consider the Fork, award-winning food writer Bee Wilson provides a wonderful and witty tour of the evolution of cooking around the world, revealing the hidden history of everyday objects we often take for granted. Knives—perhaps our most important gastronomic tool—predate the discovery of fire, whereas the fork endured centuries of ridicule before gaining widespread acceptance; pots and pans have been around for millennia, while plates are a relatively recent invention. Many once-new technologies have become essential elements of any well-stocked kitchen—mortars and pestles, serrated knives, stainless steel pots, refrigerators. Others have proved only passing fancies, or were supplanted by better technologies; one would be hard pressed now to find a water-powered egg whisk, a magnet-operated spit roaster, a cider owl, or a turnspit dog. Although many tools have disappeared from the modern kitchen, they have left us with traditions, tastes, and even physical characteristics that we would never have possessed otherwise.
Did that help? I’ll mention that if you are on the fence about this one I would probably suggest not reading it. Each chapter is probably 10-20% too long and at times can absolutely drag. But all in all I did enjoy this book and it was full of the fun tidbits I like to get out of a history monograph.
This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.