consider the fork


by Bee Wilson

Many people think of technology only as involving computers, cars but I repeat myself, robots and such ignoring such things as tool making around cooking- cutlery, pans, cups, pots, spits- name it, that humanity has been in the business of improving since the first man/ woman learnt to cook and serve food to more than one person. The changes in how we cook, eat, store food and all examples of technological change.

And this is where the book by Bee comes in. She has set out on a journey through the evolution of technologies for cooking and eating. Have you imagined who it was that discovered it was possible to boil food? Is this technology intuitive? But beyond that, imagine making a vessel that would withstand heat from fire and not disintegrate because of the water at different temperatures? How much ingenuity was employed in coming up with such a vessel? What thing in nature gave itself to them as an example?

Or think about the first person to light a fire or happen on a fire, and use it to roast food. It is one thing to happen on or light a fire, it is another to think it can be used to make food delicious. It must have taken a lot of trial and error to arrive at the point where we know almost instinctively how to make a good bbq.

Think about the cutting appliances from the different continents and how these affect the way we eat. Of how the Chinese cut their food in cubes suitable for eating with a chopstick or the way of the Europeans where food is served with a thousand appliances, included among them, is a knife that can’t cut gruel! And the anxiety this brings: did I use the right fork? Am I holding the knife properly?

How do you use your microwave? Is it just to defrost and warm food or do use it to cook? How do you measure the potions in your recipe? In a cup or using a weighing machine?

Do you use non stick pans and pots to cook or are you like me who relies on good old stainless steel pots? Or is your pot lined with enamel?

More interestingly, for me, is has the apparatus you use to cook changed what is in your diet? Are there things you don’t eat now because the method or the appliance you used to make it has changed? Or have you introduced new things in the menu because the cooking appliances have been refined allowing for greater possibilities?

Since Bee’s book is concerned mainly with what happens in Europe and just a bit about of Asia, I am interested in the knowledge of how our ancestors cooked, what they ate and all. I know for a long time there were pots for different foods, for storage, for refrigerating water and all. Maybe I should visit the museum to see if these artifacts exist somewhere.

Another question of interest to me, is how much kitchen technology has changed in African homes, especially in the villages where electricity penetration is low, and liquefied petroleum gas is not abundant. Has the construction of the hearth changed to be more economical and efficient like the one at our home (note to self: maybe take a picture next time you go home)

And maybe, the final question, can we, even given the fact that our literature is mainly oral, develop recipes from what our parents made? Are there such special recipes? You know, the Italians have their pasta, the Brits their beef, the Americans their obesity pies.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

30 thoughts on “consider the fork

  1. ladysighs says:

    I thought and thought about this book
    Thought I’d take another look

    Who was the first to light a fire
    How eating tools they did acquire

    How did the ancients eat and dine
    Who was the first to make some wine

    When did they start to use a fork
    Into a bottle stick a cork

    For fatty foods did they pine
    Say “to heck” for a thin waist line

    This last question may seem a bit odd
    But who was the first to thank a god

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jim- says:

    Bride pricing is set by the commodity market hehe. This was very interesting

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      I am glad you found it interesting

      What commodity are we talking about here

      Like

      • jim- says:

        Brides and payments. The idea of dowry in the US is non existent. It’s a strange idea to us.

        Like

        • makagutu says:

          This is interesting. Has it always been like that or it was dropped along the way?

          Like

          • jim- says:

            I don’t know. I don’t think it has ever been part of the US, not mainstream at least.

            Like

          • jim- says:

            Plus you can marry any girl from any class of life out of love and give it your best effort. Dowry is a very foreign idea.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            What the hell!
            Marry from any class even if all you have to your name is the shirt on your back? Here, dowry/ bride price has been the norm in fact to not pay is the exception.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jim- says:

            Love is more important than money. Maybe that is the real American Dream—being with whoever you love in spite of everything else in the world. Do you feel dowry is a sound principle, or hate it like the Indians stuck in their castes?

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            Hate it? No. I just think it should be abolished. It is a case of men trading women cloaked in culture. Women are not involved in the negotiation for the dowry that will be paid for them

            Like

          • jim- says:

            I have married off 4 daughters and was paid nothing. My son married a fine lady from a wealthy family and paid nothing. Dowry seems so archaic. Nothing should get in the way of true love. Come to America Mak, find yourself a beautiful bride and the world is at your fingertips

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            We are those who change society. So I am here to say no to culture that I disagree with

            Liked by 1 person

          • jim- says:

            That is exactly what Kenya needs! Good people to affect could change. This is very interesting, this dowry business. Do you know if Europe has dowry?

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            I think It does. Unless they have changed.
            Read Tolstoy’s stories and you see him talk of dowry and such stuff. Maybe that’s only in Russia. But we can hope Pink or Tish will answer this question for us

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Good post. Very interesting topic.

    Like

  4. basenjibrian says:

    I think jim is being a bit rose-colored here. While there has never been anything like a formal bride price or caste system, to state that love is the only consideration and class and family/dynastic issues has never really been an issue….heck, half of the American upper middle class literary canon would not exist if this were true?

    Why do we think women went to the Ivy League colleges? Not to get a professional education!

    And don’t forget the racial/ethnic segregation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      There was an article Pink shared from the Guardian of how the classes maintain their dominance by marrying within the same class and all. I think you make a very good point

      Like

  5. renudepride says:

    Okay. Interesting but after my spouse prepares our meal and we finish the dinner, I could care less until the next meal becomes necessary. Naked hugs!

    Like

  6. Very interesting topic, & would be good reading, I’m sure.

    Like

    • makagutu says:

      How have you been?
      Yes, the book itself is quite interesting.
      Have you thought about the different iterations of the fridge to the ones we have now that have WiFi and all

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, my fridge is a plain fridge, my freezer is also a plain freezer. All the online bit is not something I can’t be bothered with, & even an ice maker is not needed in our house.
        I would be interested in how cooking with fire developed, & containers to boil things.
        As for cutlery…..we use one fork, one knife, one spoon, napkins if needed, & that’s it.
        I’m doing fairly well, thanks. The x-rays showed that both hip replacements have settled properly, so now its just another year to get my muscle tone, & strength back….lots of stretching, using stairs, & a manual treadmill.

        Like

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