Delicious: The Evolution of Flavor and How It Made Us Human is a lively and fact-filled exploration of how flavor, although often overlooked in scientific research, has played an important role in shaping human history. Rob Dunn (Never Home Alone), a professor of applied ecology at North Carolina State University, and Monica Sanchez, a medical anthropologist, liken the book to "a dinner party" at which they "are the hosts." Dunn and Sanchez are indeed the perfect hosts, guiding readers, with humor and expertise, through a feast of entertaining anecdotes in fields such as ecology, agriculture, psychology, art and chemistry.
The chapters follow a chronological sequence, starting with how taste receptors played a role in helping animals evade danger, then positing that the search for palatable foods hastened the creation of tools by our primate ancestors. They move on to the role and significance of spices, and eventually explain the role of flavor in the extinction of various species over millennia.
The list of topics covered is extensive--cheese-making, fermentation and the biology and physiology of taste receptors, to name a few. The authors write in a very accessible style, making all of the scientific facts, charts and diagrams easily understandable to a lay audience.
The final chapter highlights the ultimate sociological importance of everything that was previously presented. Dunn and Sanchez observe that "while the rules of dining vary in many ways among cultures, the importance of eating together transcends human culture and time. And this togetherness improves the deliciousness of food." --Grace Rajendran, freelance reviewer and literary events producer