The Modern Kitchen by Tim Hayward
The Modern Kitchen is the fourth book by Tim Hayward, an award-winning food writer and broadcaster with a mild obsession for kitchens. “For me, it’s not just where I cook and eat with my family, but also a place of work – a study, laboratory and studio,” Hayward writes in his introduction to this 208-paged look at the history of, well, everything that has to do with the kitchen.
Published by Quadrille, The Modern Kitchen hit the shelves this past April. It peaks into the history of different kitchen tools and gadgets, from prep (potato peeler, kitchen knife, garlic press) to appliances, and even a brief prediction of what the kitchens of the future will be (spoiler alert: it’s fully automated and predictive). Each tool has tidbits, complete with citations and sources. It feels very encyclopedic in style. These histories are interspersed with small essays about class, gender, wealth, health and the home kitchen. It’s a neat illustration of our domestic lives, as seen through the modern kitchen.
Classic, simple photos punctuate the whole book, giving it a rustic-meets-modern aesthetic fitting with the theme of the book.
The writing is interesting; there’s enough personality to keep the prose from sounding too dry and educational. It’s reminiscent of getting a guided tour of a museum. Hayward is our guide, providing fun anecdotes not found on the plaque or in history books.
If you love learning about the history of things, this is a great read. It also makes an interesting coffee-table book for your living room, should you like those kinds of things.