“Consider the Fork” is a work of technological history. One doesn’t normally think of how technology relates to food, but not all technology is computers. Sticking a piece of meat on a stick over an open fire is using technology. Cutting that meat is using technology. Wilson takes us from that open fire, through cooking containers which enabled foods to be cooked with liquid- which allowed people with bad or no teeth to eat and survive- right on up to the cutting edge kitchen tools like the sous vide machine.
Every change in food technology changed how people lived. Refrigerators allowed the keeping of perishable foods; people didn’t have to shop every day and there could be leftovers that were safe to eat. The turnspit- a rotisserie for roasting large cuts of meat in an open hearth- created a breed of dog with the proper build for going round in small circles turning said rotisserie. The fork (and chop sticks) meant that foods needed to be in small pieces, which actually changed how our teeth come together- we no longer had to pull meat off of larger pieces with the strength of our jaws. Food technology touches the lives of every single person and always has.
The book is fascinating and a very fast read despite being filled with details. Wilson writes charmingly of domestic history and science. It’s like visiting the kitchen of a really smart friend and listening to her over tea and biscuits.
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