Reading progress update: I've read 67 out of 348 pages.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach

Alright, so I finally made a start on this today. Part of me enjoyed the circumstances of reading the book - picture: bed, jammies, nice fresh cup of hazelnut flavour coffee, the sound of Sunday outside my bedroom window, and no rush to get up - more than the book.

 

I'm not sure about the irreverent tone. I don't find it funny. However, without it, I can't think of what would hold the book together.

 

Roach brings up interesting "tidbits" (I can see my fellow Flat Book Society readers rolling their eyes at this - you're welcome!) but there have been quite a few mentions of research (mostly on behavioural experiments, not so much on flavour testing) where I would have liked more information or at least a reference to the source or to further reading.

 

I also am not sure about the research included - if we look at Chapter two for example, Roach's bibliography cites two research papers: one from 1926 and one from 1936. Both papers are on comparative diets and seem to conclude that animals, like humans, have culturally informed food preferences. Now this is something that I find interesting. I would also like to know whether there has been a change in the conclusions of (particularly) the work of research that compared the food preferences in rats (the 1926 study by the Indian Research Fund Association) since it is obvious that rats domiciled in Britain thrived as much as rats in India. In the rest of the chapter, Roach puts forward a view that food preference is culturally informed, but also that it can be learned based on the food available. I would like to know what food the rats used in the experiment had been raised on before the experiment?

 

I have so many questions, but none are really answered by Roach's irreverence (or her bibliography) so far.