walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

a few remarks on _Pickled, Potted, and Canned_

I still hope to finish this, but I just can't let this paragraph slide.

On page 117 of the hardcover, Shephard (sic) describes a 1960s archeaological dig in Northeast Poland around Lake Biskupin. The site was dated to the ninth century and was a place to smoke fish. Some people replicated the kind of smoking they thought had been done there, including "using authentic ninth-century equipment", and the fish was tasty.

Here's the offending paragraph:

"In fact, more primitive methods of smoking than this are still practiced around the world. In many parts of Africa the tradition is for fish to be sun-dried and hard smoked until almost burned. Large oil drums are covered at one end with wire mesh."

And here's the problem I'm having. Oil drums? Wire mesh? Primitive? Yes, I'm sure Shephard meant the method (she said method), but throughout this book -- including in the previous paragraph -- she has included details of the tools as part of the method. While it might be obvious to _you_ what the wire mesh and the oil drum are replacing, I'd kind of like to hear the details, and how they dealt with those things drying out and/or catching fire and/or not being structurally adequate to the task.

I knew about the inadequate sourcing and total lack of footnotes going in, so I cannot really complain about those.

ETA1: Lest this seem isolated:

p 130

"The isolated Maoris had an obsessive interest in food preservation, storage and trade." Earlier, Shephard refers to Polynesian food pits as a way to keep "surplus" food. Repeatedly. Given that she simultaneously refers to these food pits and this food as necessary to survive at all, to the point that parents enforced this for their kids before they let them marry, it's hard to imagine what she might mean by surplus. Similarly, not clear what she might mean by "obsessive". "Sadly, the trade brought them into contact with the outside world, where they were rewarded with deadly diseases such as measles, whooping cough, and venereal disease and their numbers were decimated."

There is so much wrong with that last sentence it is difficult to know where to begin. But saying that it was trade that got them into trouble is a vast oversimplification and understatement on a par with trying to proclaim confederate history month without any mention whatsoever of slavery.
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