Consider the fork : a history of how we cook and eat

In the library we have vegetarian cookbooks and barbecue cookbooks. We have French cookbooks and microwave cookbooks. We have cookbooks by famous chefs and famous musicians. Almost anything you’ve ever wanted to serve at a meal, we have cookbooks that will help you make those foods. But why do we cook the way we do? What influences the way you make a breakfast slice of toast or cup of coffee?

Bee Wilson, author of Consider the Fork, has the answer. It isn’t simply ingredients or culture that shapes food choices. She tells us that the way we cook, the technology we use, has a profound effect on the food we end up putting in our mouths. We don’t use fish bladders to clarify coffee (thank goodness), or try to make toast over open flames, hoping the whole time that we don’t catch our clothes on fire and burn down the house. In days gone by, people would use both of these food preparation methods.

The stories behind the things that line our kitchen shelves and cabinets are rich, convoluted, and full of the kind of trivia that makes you both profoundly happy to live in a time with refrigeration, and also disappointed to have missed the bizarre spectacle that was beef, roasted for hours on a rotating spit, pulled by dogs or geese walking on a treadmill. The dogs and geese lived horrible lives. But it still sounds like a thing to see. Wilson can tell you more than you ever thought you wanted to know about kitchen microwaves and ice-cream makers and you’ll love every moment. Learn all about how war and fashion changed spoons, knives, and those fancy, unmanly, newfangled gadgets--forks.      

This book was selected by LAPL Reads as one of the Best of 2012 Non-Fiction