The Overbite, Evolution, Utensils, and The Kitchen
March 14, 2013 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Jane Kramer has a fascinating review, an all-encompassing review, of Bee Wilson's, “CONSIDER THE FORK: A HISTORY OF HOW WE COOK AND EAT.

Who is Jane Kramer? Who is Bee Wilson? Well, Mrs. Kramer covers that in her macro-review. Don't miss the interview with Mrs. Kramer on the sidelinks!
posted by artof.mulata (7 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
There was a nice article on this book in Harper's; I added to my must-read list. Food history and culture is a particular passion of mine.
posted by Kitteh at 10:15 AM on March 14, 2013

Just finished this one. It's a fascinating read and I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to this genre of writing. Next on my list is Standage's An Edible History of Humanity. I had a conversation with someone the other day about the fact that you really could use food as a lens for nearly every subject in most school curricula: chemistry, politics, literature, history, art, business, philosophy, even basic mathematics. I may have to start a school...
posted by madred at 11:16 AM on March 14, 2013

What a long winded and meandering review.

I wish she would explain the Brace hypothesis with more clarity. How is silverware thought to create overbites?
posted by dgaicun at 12:34 PM on March 14, 2013

What a long winded and meandering review.

Honestly, the book is a little like that, too — lots of information, but in too many places it's hard to discern a central idea or through-line. I read it a few weeks ago, and the better chapters are a pleasure to read. But some of the chapters read like nothing more than a compendium of bullet-pointed facts, as though Wilson had found out all of these fascinating tidbits that she couldn't bear to leave out but also couldn't assemble into a central thesis.
posted by Johnny Assay at 1:39 PM on March 14, 2013

How is silverware thought to create overbites?

I am not any kind of expert in orthodontics or the history of utensils. But I think it might have something to do with the different ways people use their jaw muscles when they are mostly putting food that has been cut up small into their mouths, as opposed to how they would use their jaw muscles if they're putting bigger hunks of food in their mouths.
posted by Anne Neville at 2:00 PM on March 14, 2013

How is silverware thought to create overbites?

I've also read that the modern diet, and soft, easily chewed food is the reason that so many of us need to have our wisdom teeth cut out. Since we don't work our jaws as hard chewing tough pieces of meat and unprocessed grains and veggies, the jaw doesn't develop as fully, leaving too little space for the wisdom teeth. The smaller lower jaw would also be undersized, resulting in an overbite. I've seen no sources for this assertion, though, so take it with as many grains of salt as you deem appropriate.
posted by fogovonslack at 4:02 PM on March 14, 2013

My husband just finished this and LOVED it. I haven't heard him be this enthusiastic about a book in a while.

What he told me about the forks/overbites thing was that the theory proposed was that if people didn't need their upper and lower teeth to meet for the purpose of tearing meat from bones, their teeth would settle into an overbite, and that the archaeological record suggests that this happened in China at the time chopsticks were widely introduced, and in Europe at the time forks were widely introduced---even though those two innovations were separated in time by hundreds/thousands of years. It isn't Wilson's own theory, she's reporting work by an anthropologist.
posted by Sidhedevil at 4:49 PM on March 14, 2013

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