"A History of How We Cook and Eat"
On this installment of ST, a fascinating book about culture, cuisine, customs, cutlery, crockery, and civilization itself. We are pleased to speak by phone with Bee Wilson, a noted food writer, historian, and author based in Cambridge, England, whose newest volume is "Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat." As a critic of this book has noted in The New York Times Book Review: "Wilson's supple, sometimes playful style in 'Consider the Fork,' a history of the tools and techniques humans have invented to feed themselves, cleverly disguises her erudition in fields from archeology and anthropology to food science.... Wilson's insouciant scholarship and companionable voice convince you she would be great fun to spend time with in the kitchen.... [She is a] congenial kitchen oracle." And as was acclaimed, further, in a starred review in Booklist: "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.)"