Dinner with Darwin: Food, Drink, and Evolution (Hardcover)
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What do eggs, flour, and milk have in common? They form the basis of waffles, of course, but these staples of breakfast bounty also share an evolutionary function: eggs, seeds (from which we derive flour by grinding), and milk have each evolved to nourish offspring. Indeed, ponder the genesis of your breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and you'll soon realize that everything we eat and drink has an evolutionary history. In Dinner with Darwin, join Jonathan Silvertown for a multicourse meal of evolutionary gastronomy, a tantalizing tour of human taste that helps us to understand the origins of our diets and the foods that have been central to them for millennia--from spices to spirits. A delectable concoction of coevolution and cookery, gut microbiomes and microherbs, and both the chicken and its egg, Dinner with Darwin reveals that our shopping lists, recipe cards, and restaurant menus don't just contain the ingredients for culinary delight. They also tell a fascinating story about natural selection and its influence on our plates--and palates. Digging deeper, Silvertown's repast includes entrees into GMOs and hybrids, and looks at the science of our sensory interactions with foods and cooking--the sights, aromas, and tastes we experience in our kitchens and dining rooms. As is the wont of any true chef, Silvertown packs his menu with eclectic components, dishing on everything from Charles Darwin's intestinal maladies to taste bud anatomy and turducken. Our evolutionary relationship with food and drink stretches from the days of cooking cave dwellers to contemporary creperies and beyond, and Dinner with Darwin serves up scintillating insight into the entire, awesome span. This feast of soup, science, and human society is one to savor. With a wit as dry as a fine pinot noir and a cache of evolutionary knowledge as vast as the most discerning connoisseur's wine cellar, Silvertown whets our appetites--and leaves us hungry for more.
About the Author
Jonathan Silvertown is professor of evolutionary ecology in the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of numerous books on ecology and evolution, including, most recently, The Long and the Short of It: The Science of Life Span and Aging, also published by the University of Chicago Press.