My rating: ★★★★☆
A copy of this book was provided via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
The technology of cooking is a broad subject with a long history. From fire to utensils to the kitchen itself, Consider the Fork breaks down these broad clusters of technology and examines them bit by bit. A chapter on pans, for example, quickly evolves into an exploration of when pans are first known to be used, how humanity cooked before pans, how different cultures use different pans, why pans eventually came to be, what pans were made from at different points in history, the cultural impact of pans, the way the invention of pans changed humanity’s diet, and so much more. There’s such a plethora of information here, it’s genuinely amazing.
Over the course of Consider the Fork, Wilson goes through the history of cooking, from pre-civilization to early civilization, then on through the Middle Ages to the Victorian Era, and finally up through the twentieth century to today; and as she did, it occurred to me for the first time just how much there is to learn about the technology of food. Between all the interesting factoids and the more in-depth exploration of historical cooking methods and the way modern life is (and isn’t) changing technology, I found myself astounded that I could have so completely overlooked such an important facet of human life. That by itself was thrilling in a sense; I love anthropology and history, and here was a whole section of it I’d never considered before, ready to be explored! What’s best, of course, is that Consider the Fork manages not just to trace the history of food technology, but to do so in a way that isn’t expressly Anglo-centric. While the primary focus is on the Western world for the English-speaking audience, there’s a refreshing effort to address Eastern culture, too.
Consider the Fork is a genuinely fascinating book, and I’ll definitely be reading more like it in the future. As someone who loves learning, especially when it comes to anthropology, Consider the Fork is exactly the kind of book I love to read; I would definitely suggest it to anyone interested in cooking, cultural anthropology, and nonfiction in general.