Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal - Mary Roach

DNF @ 34%.

I looked at my current reads this morning and just cannot bear the thought of spending more time on a book I evidently don’t enjoy when there are so many awesome reads to be gotten into.

Gulp was not the book I expected, even tho I had no idea what to expect. Maybe I had my hopes set on something that would be a bit more serious about the science of the alimentary canal than Roach evidently is prepared to offer up.

Not that I needed a phd thesis or a text book, but I know that even a light(er)-hearted exploration of the topic can be done better. A LOT better.

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

Roach brings up interesting “tidbits” 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 had so many questions, but none are really answered by Roach’s irreverence (or her bibliography).

As I read on, the book did not improve for me from that point. If anything, Roaches jumping from idea to idea without really exploring any of them in any depth just grated on me more, as did the – to me – irrelevant descriptions of choice of clothes of the people she interviewed.

I need more. Much more.