From the TBR Shelf #35: Consider the Fork by Bee Wilson the Fork (2012) by Bee Wilson

I had heard great things about this book, but never thought I'd be interested in a history of how we cook and eat. Well, Bee Wilson showed me just how fascinating knives, refrigerators, and peelers can be.

You might be thinking, "wut, that sounds so boring," but believe me, it's anything but. Wilson takes us around the world and across the centuries, exploring how different cultures have used such technologies as forks, knives, spoons, graters, coffee-makers, and saucepans to develop their own unique style of eating and serving meals. We learn about the evolution of the hearth into the kitchen, and how the Cuisinart was born when an American businessman with a love of French cooking adapted a machine he discovered while visiting the country.

With humorous anecdotes, confessions about her own cooking experiences, and a keen eye for detail, Wilson takes us on a journey filled with miraculous inventions and continuing mysteries- like, say, how did people thousands of years ago first decide that roasting meat over a fire was a good idea? Was it an accident? An experiment? We might never know the answer, but speculating about it is still fun. After all, the history of human food consumption and preparation is linked to such areas of study as anthropology, the history of science and technology, interior design, and many others.

Two specific anecdotes were particularly interesting: first, that people in medieval and Renaissance Europe used to carry around personal knives in their belts for the purposes of eating and defending themselves from possible attacks from enemies. Second, that gas-powered refrigerators once existed. Yeah, seriously.

So if you're interested in anything remotely having to do with the history of food, manners, cooking implements, or human evolution, check out Consider the Fork and bon appetit.

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