New technology has not released food preparation and consumption from its expressive role; it has just changed the ways in which we say who we are and what we value. Indeed, though many aspects of food preparation have become vastly less time-consuming and onerous than they once were, some of us now spend far more time in food preparation than is strictly necessary for fueling our bodies. Seeking to recover “the tastes we have lost,” we aim to recover the modes of work that produced those tastes—the lost arts of baking, butchery, sausage-making, preserving, and even, in [Bee] Wilson’s case, roasting using a mechanical jack in front of an open fire. Our kitchens highlight the modern tensions between labor and leisure, between the technologies of efficiency and those of authenticity, between modern food preparation as a way of freeing up time for important things and as itself the ultimately important thing.

Steven Shapin, “The Tines They Are A-changin’: A History of Table Technology”