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.

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


  3. Good post. Very interesting topic.


  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


  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!


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


    • 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.


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