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Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat MP3 CD – Audiobook, MP3 Audio, Unabridged

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Editorial Reviews

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*Starred Review* At every turn, Wilson’s history of the technology of cooking and eating upends another unexamined tradition, revealing that utensils and practices now taken for granted in kitchen and at table have long and remarkable histories. The knife evolved from primitive humans’ need to reduce food to manageable portions. Thermometers helped make home ovens practical. Some of the first pleas for animal rights arose from the use of caged dogs to turn spits in front of kitchen hearths. Most societies weigh recipe ingredients, but Americans continue to measure ingredients by volume. Wilson traces this deviation back to the difficulty of lugging scales westward across the frontier. Wilson’s book teems with other delightful insights, laying to rest such questions as what Chinese parents say to their children to persuade them to finish their food, since they can’t employ the typical American admonition about children starving in China. (Answer: Don’t disrespect the sweat of the hardworking rice farmer.) --Mark Knoblauch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Wilson is erudite and whip-smart, but she always grounds her exploration of technological change in the perspective of the eternal harried cook---she's been one---struggling to put a meal on the table. This is mouthwatering history: broad in scope, rich in detail, stuffed with savory food for thought." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review

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Product Details

  • MP3 CD
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio; MP3 - Unabridged CD edition (October 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1452659575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1452659572
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,639,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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75 of 86 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Consider the Fork. And the knife. Pots and pans. Measuring cups. Items so basic that we rarely wonder how they came to be and what people used before. Bee Wilson considers forks and more in a book about the tools of cooking and eating. That may sound prosaic, but the result is simply fascinating.

Wilson gets down to basics in an informative, wide-ranging, and witty book. What about pots? It was a big step to apply fire to food and another big step to apply indirect fire to food. Humans were grilling and charring food for thousands of years before they tried putting something between the food and the fire. It was some time before they could devise a material that would stand up to fire but allow the food to heat through it. Once that was accomplished, humans could boil food and fry it. It isn't hard to imagine how humans discovered that fire could make unpalatable food edible or good food even better, but I'd never appreciated the gigantic steps it took to reach boiling and frying.

What about something as simple as timing a soft-boiled egg? Before clocks, before egg timers, how did people time their eggs, or anything else? Often by reciting a well-known prayer. The prayers would be familiar since everyone went to church often enough to know the prayers and the standard tempo to recite them. Six Lord's Prayers and the egg is done.

It was only in the past century that measuring amounts became at all standard. Recipes were rather tricky before standard measures. But in America they are still trickier than they need to be, because we are the only country that uses a cup to measure dry volume. The rest of the Western world uses weight measures (and metric weight at that, which we Americans still refuse to adopt.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By BLehner on October 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
What did you have for breakfast today? Or more importantly how did you prepare it? I bet several kitchen appliances have been put to good use. Pans and knives, measuring and grinding, fire and ice (or rather, stove and fridge) - Consider The Fork by Bee Wilson isn't your ordinary guide into the history of food, but into the world of implements and technology inside the kitchen. It's not about what but how we eat, and if you find this to be a trivial topic, think again, because it's most certainly not. I promise, after reading this book you will never look at your spoon the same way again!
Skillfully the author weaves a tapestry of her own observations while cooking, mixing it with fascinating excursions into history, effortlessly seguing from everyday snapshots to the distant past. Thoroughly researched and wonderfully detailed, but even more so, engrossingly and smoothly written, this book is literally a real treat for everyone even remotely interested into a look at the technology behind everything we eat. As unimportant as the equipment of a kitchen may seem compared to the history of food itself, I was both surprised and delighted by this book. I have always had a great appreciation for books presenting a slightly different angle on historical aspects of things, and this one catered to my taste (pun intended) just perfectly.
In short: A mesmerizing and beautifully written journey into the world of kitchen utensils!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful By EllenP on March 1, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I thought I would love this book; it's the kind of thing that's usually right up my alley, and I enjoyed her "Swindled: the Dark History of Food Fraud." But "Consider the Fork" just couldn't hold my interest. In addition to the shortcomings mentioned by other reviewers (repetitions, dry writing, and jumping from subject to unrelated subject), there were several factual errors that made me wonder what else was wrong that I didn't know enough to catch, and I can't enjoy a non-fiction book when I'm questioning whether I can trust what I'm reading.

Besides there being two pints in a quart and how the length of a mile was determined (as another reviewer here mentioned), Wilson writes that Handel composed his "Water Music" during the Restoration of Charles II, when in fact Handel wasn't even born then. George I and II were Handel's kings. I can hardly believe a British author would make that mistake, but even worse, how did her editors not catch it?

Wilson explains Americans' supposed "zig-zag" style of eating as (I'm paraphrasing, since I don't have the book in front of me) "The meat is cut completely into lots of little bits and then the fork zigs and zags all over the plate stabbing and picking them up," which is ludicrous. Even if we do switch our fork from side to side (many of us don't), we still know that etiquette dictates that we cut only one bite at a time. The actual reason this style of eating is so called is because we put down the knife after cutting each bite and switch the fork back to the right hand to pick it up and eat it; i.e., the fork zigs and zags from one hand to the other. And I wonder if it was really Emily Post who dubbed it "zig-zag eating"? Who can tell, since Wilson got so much else wrong?
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