Paperback review: Consider the Fork: A History Of How We Cook And Eat by Bee Wilson

 

Wilson’s informative, friendly style throws up lots of tasty facts (the earliest recipes came from Mesopotamia, Roman metal utensils were still copied into the 20th century), but her history also emphasises the labour-intensity of cooking in surprising ways.

We might expect stone-age warriors to die if their teeth fell out, dependent as they were on chewing their food, but it’s revealing to learn that the mixture for 14th-century pancakes had to be beaten together “long enough to weary one person or two”, and that sense of a small army of people needed to prepare food quickly developed into a status symbol that generations were reluctant to relinquish despite the onset of labour-saving electrical implements.

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