Food tools: the history of our food

Food tools: the history of our food

A new book, Tools for Food: The stories behind the objects that influence how and what we eat reveals, the changing nature of our culinary habits

The history of kitchen utensils is explored in a new book, Tools for Food: The stories behind the objects that influence how and what we eat, by Corinne Mynatt, writer, curator and producer born in Nashville and based in east London.

A global history of kitchen utensils

The book explores the history of 250 food tools, ranging from the familiar to the obscure, from the useful to the useless. Mynatt takes a closer look at items as diverse as a 4th-century Korean fermentation pot and a chic 20th-century Italian juicer, exploring the mores and customs of the societies that used them.

Interweaving history with anecdotes, Mynatt swings between interesting treats and fascinating facts as she tackles each cookware. On graters, she starts with the intricate pieces of bamboo from Asia and explores pewter graters in 18th century France – the metal was used because it was strong enough to pass through old cheese, thus avoiding food waste. .

In America, she looks at the hermetic closure system of chemist Earl Tupper in the 1940s, who set the scene for today’s Tupperware; and examines Irwin Gershen’s Shrimp Cleaner, created in 1954 and now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Shrimp Master

The book’s clean graphic design – by A Practice for Everyday Life, who has worked on projects for clients such as Barbican, Design Museum, and Gagosian – makes it a desirable object in its own right. The tome was presented at the recent London Design Festival in collaboration with the functional design store Labor and Wait, where it is now available for purchase.

“We have always been fascinated by the array of tools involved in food preparation, from the everyday to the very specific, and this is evident in the tools we stock at Labor and Wait,” says Director Simon Watkins. “This book sheds light on the history and evolution of a myriad of wonderful tools from around the world.” §

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