Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: Consider the Fork

Ever since I began cooking, well cooking professionally, I have had an interest in the when and how we began cooking and eating as we do now.  Consider the Fork answers some of those questions and does so in a very engaging manner, the author doesn't string out some exhaustive and boring time lines with specific dates and so-called "major events" as the typical history class at school does.  Instead, the author simply elaborates on simple items we take for granted such as the fork, and how we as a society evolved from eating with personal knives or daggers that were carried with us everywhere to spoons and eventually to the multi pronged fork as a sort of height of sophistication (although I still prefer fingers myself).
The book covers not just the implements we use for eating but also the apparatus we use for cooking such as the large wood fired spits built into the lower areas in the a wall of castles where men would prepare food wearing little but a loin cloth due to the extreme heat, a stark contrast to the chef coat and pants and necessary rubber gloves of today.  Spits would be turned by boys because dogs became smart enough to hide when the turning equipment was brought out.  Eventually this form of roasting meats would give way to the wood burning oven then a gas range and even electric ranges (which you couldn't pay me to install in my home).  These innovations were a driving force that lead to gas lines and electric infrastructure in every home as we now have.
Consider the Fork doesn't offer any new methods that we should be trying or anything of that nature, the book simply explains how we got to where we are today in terms of cooking food which makes someone like myself both wish for the old days and a more involved and planned out method of cooking but also grateful that if I wish to roast a beast I do not need to find my son and force him to turn a spit in a hot kitchen while I tend to more involved duties.

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