In this week’s New Yorker, two great things that add up to more than two great things:
Jane Kramer reviews “Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat,” by the British food writer and historian Bee Wilson. It’s more than a book review, though: The New Yorker’s European correspondent brings into it her own passion for cooking and her years of writing about food.
The book review mentioned above is discussed in a podcast on the magazine’s website, meaning the book to the left generating two contributions from one of that magazine’s finest writers. How does 1 + 1 add up to more than 2? Here is a magazine, against all odds of print journalism in the 21st century, adding value with the very technology that is killing other publications. Creative destruction, culling out weaker publications, is also working its magic.
Longtime readers of that magazine will have followed its evolution under three editors. The editor prior to the present one was criticized for tarting up a legacy, but the longer she is gone the softer that criticism becomes. The magazine is alive and well because it has dared try new models. And what it is doing with its website adds new dimensions to what was otherwise one dimensional. Every dedicated reader is likely more than satisfied to hear the other voices of the writers, their backstory to the piece, and what he might have left on the editor’s cutting room floor.
This particular book review begins:
Your kitchen may not be the mirror of your soul, but it can produce a pretty accurate image of where you’ve landed on the time line of domesticity. Take a tour through it. You’ll find not only the food you eat (and don’t), and the objects with which you preserve, prepare, cook, and serve it, but, very likely, tucked away in the back of the highest cupboard, the abandoned paraphernalia of your mother’s or grandmother’s kitchen life. And if you think seriously about this, you will eventually start asking questions about what went on in other people’s kitchens during the twenty thousand years since one smart Homo sapiens picked up a rock and ground a handful of wild barley into something he could eat—the most obvious being which came first, the food that sits in your fridge today or the technology, from the rock to the thermal immersion circulator, that got it there and puts it on the table.
Read the rest of the review here.