Consider the Fork

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Bee Wilson

Consider the Fork takes apart various aspects of cooking and brings its historical technological development, as well as its impact on society, from pots and pans, to fire, to ice.

I was pondering the following excerpt:

“For each category, Lemme rated the materials, using a scale of one to ten. He then tabulated his findings in to an “idealness rating,” with 1,000 as the perfect score.

Lemme’s findings confirmed how difficult it is to produce perfect cookware. Pure aluminum rated very high for temperature uniformity (scored 8.9, out of a possible 10) great for evenly browning an omelette — but very low for hardness (scored 2): many aluminum pans end up misshapen. Copper was efficient (scored 10) but hard to ma intain (scored 1). Overall, Lemme found that none of the “single material pots” rated above 500 in the idealness scoring; in other words, they landed just halfway up the scale. The best was pure cast iron (544.4). Those of us who continue to use cast-iron skillets are on to something. But 544 is still a low score.

The only way to get closer to the ideal rating of 1,000 was to combine metals by sandwiching them together.”

This made me think of other systems in which we look for “ideal ratings,” like governments. (I wonder why that’s on my mind right now.) There seems to be a left wing trend to reject everything that is not pure in thought. If we consider ideal pots and pans, though, what we need to be looking for in an ideal leader or government plan of action is what it can achieve and not at what percentage of copper is in the pot. We need to use layers, and to be measuring the impact of ideas, not the purity of them, and leaders who understand this.

Another thing I was made aware of what just how taxing running a kichen was before the 20th century, and well into it. We joke that it’s not nice to gift your wife a kitchen appliance. But when it was a full-time job just to feed everyone, regardless of the gender of the person responsible for the kitchen, a true time-saving kitchen appliance was the gift of time. Although, I’m not so sure that was the intent of gifts of those sorts in many cases.

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