…does not immediately strike one as an interesting past time – but oh, my goodness! Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat is just stuffed full of fascinating facts and quirky anecdotes.
Wilson is a food writer and historian who writes as the ‘Kitchen Thinker’ in the Sunday Telegraph. Before she became a food writer she was a Research Fellow in History at Cambridge University. This book is well-researched and charmingly written: there is a friendly generosity to her writing. She is so excited to be sharing all these unusual snippets about various implements and gadgets, and explaining how they have shaped our world both inside and outside the kitchen.
The chapter on knives is fascinating and I also enjoyed the chapter on kitchens themselves – they have waxed and waned over the centuries as tools, gadgets and staff have appeared and disappeared. The creativity and inventiveness involved in getting a meal on the table is staggering, and Wilson kicks off with the seemingly simple pot, tracing its path from ‘simple’ clay container to the modern search for the no-hot-spots perfect pan.
This is an oddly enchanting read, witty and absorbing, I think one of the best kitchen/food writing books I’ve ever read . Also, as a side effect, I have to say I want to display my kitchen utensils differently, to honour and enjoy them…