Microlessons: Toward a History of Information-Age Cuisine
Abstract

ABSTRACT:

This essay proposes that critiques of the industrial food system have not kept pace with its rapid transformation through information technologies, and returns to the emergence of microwave cooking during the 1970s for an illustrative case study. Not just the appliances but also their related cookbooks were produced by corporations heavily invested in electronics. Peculiar convergences suggest that a more encompassing approach to the new cuisine is imperative if we are to understand its complex ecology and phenomenology. In deference to a term from one such cookbook published by General Electric, my history is organized around eight related “Microlessons”—each an invented culinary technique, procedure, or adaptation responding to challenges posed by the new technology—that in hindsight are difficult to confine under the rubric of food studies. The aim is to articulate a new perspective on the post-industrial food system and its many consequences.