14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A history of cooking, at times fascinating,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat (Kindle Edition)
Very few historians have ventured into this territory, and Bee Wilson deserves great credit for going into that undiscovered country.
As one example, her discussion of the history of FIRE in cooking is fascinating. Early humans simply put meat into a fire (if they had one), and then centuries passed with an "open-hearth" kitchen. You may imagine that such a kitchen would be romantic and organic -- a huge open fire with meat turning on a spit -- and there is indeed very good evidence that this is the best way to roast meat. But you are probably overlooking the dangers & drudgery involved here: the fire is HOT, very HOT, and who is going to turn the spit? Answer: young boys who normally worked without clothes because of the heat.
The next step was the coal-fired oven, which no person in their right mind would use today. It required massive amounts of time for both cooking and cleaning.
Have I mentioned the obvious fact that both open-hearth cooking, and coal-fired cooking, require the presence of a lot of servants? The delicious "Rosbif" went to the lord of the manor.
Somewhere around this point, I realized that my inexpensive counter-top range (powered by propane, with two burners, cost less than $100) was a huge step forward for both men and women.
And once again I thank my lucky stars to have been born in California in 1946. Four centuries ago, I might have been a "servant boy" destined to turn the spit for the lord of the manor.
As I said, the discussion of fire was very interesting. I found that the history of spoons and forks was not so very interesting.
On the whole, I recommend this book. You'll learn a whole bunch of stuff which you probably never thought worth thinking about.