Friday, April 25, 2014

Review: Cooked by Michael Pollan

Title: Cooked
Author: Michael Pollan
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: The Penguin Press
Publish Date: April 23, 2013
Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth—to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer.

Each section of Cooked tracks Pollan’s effort to master a single classic recipe using one of the four elements. A North Carolina barbecue pit master tutors him in the primal magic of fire; a Chez Panisse–trained cook schools him in the art of braising; a celebrated baker teaches him how air transforms grain and water into a fragrant loaf of bread; and finally, several mad-genius “fermentos” (a tribe that includes brewers, cheese makers, and all kinds of picklers) reveal how fungi and bacteria can perform the most amazing alchemies of all. The reader learns alongside Pollan, but the lessons move beyond the practical to become an investigation of how cooking involves us in a web of social and ecological relationships. Cooking, above all, connects us.

The effects of not cooking are similarly far reaching. Relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume large quantities of fat, sugar, and salt; disrupt an essential link to the natural world; and weaken our relationships with family and friends. In fact, Cooked argues, taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable. Reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, opens the door to a more nourishing life."

My Two Cents:

"Cooked" is Michael Pollan's latest book which is (perhaps unsurprisingly) another wonderful entry on food. I love Michael Pollan and he definitely falls on my "Anything They Come Out With I Will Read" list. I think he definitely has some sane advice in this crazy, crazy world of food and the way all of those yummy things come to us. This book tackles cooking. Pollan is asked a lot about how we the people can try to change the food industry for the better and his main suggestion is to cook more. Like actually cook with fresh produce and whole foods. In this fast paced world, it can be hard to find time to cook but it's definitely something worthy to toil at.

As with his other books, Pollan succeeds in not being preachy while he explores all of the different ways that we transform raw materials like meat, flour, veggies, and fruits into delicious, delicious food. You feel like you are exploring with him and he most definitely leaves you room to come to your own conclusions, which I really appreciate.

Each section focuses on a different way that we transform our food into things we want to eat such as barbeque or fermentation. I really like that the book was broken up this way. I especially loved the section on barbeque (who realized that true barbeque-ers were so serious about their craft???).

Pollan makes a good point of how cooking can actually be interesting and even relaxing. It can almost be a form of meditation. He shows that cooking doesn't necessarily need to be a chore (advice that I am really, really trying to take myself). Overall, if you enjoy food or cooking, you should really read this book!


1 comment:

  1. I didn't realize that Pollan had a new book out. He definitely fits into that must read category. I'm glad you enjoyed it.


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