Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Through the Stomach - History podcast review

The Podcast History of Cooking is a new and very promising history podcast (feed). Maker Jesse Browner takes on history with the subject that has been with us for ever: preparing our food. Even if not all food preparation is cooking, this history goes way back, much further than written history, as Browner makes a point. Sure, but how to find out what the cooking was? Another direction he takes, is even more ambitious: cooking as a measure of history; he assumes our cooking represents the direction our history takes, sometimes earlier and more accurately than for example politics, economy or war.

When speaking of food in earliest times, we have to rely on supposition. Browner criticizes a widely accepted assumption that the pre-historic diet was bland, monotonous and simple. I find his point very convincing. Man, throughout history, is no less smart, inventive and curious than today and consequently, there is no reason whatsoever to assume anything other than that early man applied all his technologies he had access to, and all the edible stuff he could find, in his cooking. In rich environments such as the Mediterranean and the Middle East, this would have resulted in a varied, tasty and rich diet.

Browner is a novelist and has attended well to his text. In addition he reads it out carefully with good intonation and tempo. The two episodes that are available thus far, take twenty minutes each. This is a very good length for a podcast that consists of a text that is read out. All of this results in a very professional and very effectively produced podcast. I am very excited to find out more about history through the stomach.

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