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Cooked Audiobook

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

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Publisher's Summary

Fire, water, air, earth - our most trusted food expert recounts the story of his culinary education

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. In the course of his journey, he discovers that the cook occupies a special place in the world, standing squarely between nature and culture. Both realms are transformed by cooking, and so, in the process, is the cook.

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 listener 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: with plants and animals, the soil, farmers, our history and culture, and, of course, the people our cooking nourishes and delights. Cooking, above all, connects us.

The effects of not cooking are similarly far reaching. Relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume huge 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.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2013 Michael Pollan (P)2013 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

"Pollan narrates his book in a conversational style filled with conviction and eagerness that drive the listener to join his evolutionary quest." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (1427 )
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  •  
    Norcal Reader Redwood City, CA, United States 08-17-13
    Norcal Reader Redwood City, CA, United States 08-17-13 Member Since 2016
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    "just not very compelling"
    Any additional comments?

    I'm sure this book will be seriously enjoyed by many people, just not me. I've read a few other Michael Pollan books, and found them so interesting. This one seriously bored me -- I just could not continue reading. Just seems like so much bloated overthinking.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Diane United States 08-07-13
    Diane United States 08-07-13 Member Since 2016
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    "Long-winded"

    Fans of Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” may be disappointed (as I was). “Cooked” contains ample material to justify the purchase of this book, but unfortunately the material is overwhelmed by fluff and repetition. Had an editor slashed about 50% of the text - the excess words between the information - I would have given this book 5 stars.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah 07-15-13
    Sarah 07-15-13
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    "Half gets five stars. Half gets two."

    I really enjoyed the parts actually about cooking and exploring its history. Not so much the lengthy sermonizing and philosophizing about 21st century American cooking habits. Yes, it's Michael Pollan, and that's his thing. Nonetheless, the lectures could've been edited extensively without loss of the message. I wish he'd stuck more to his topic and less to his opinions about the topic. By the way, I thought he read his book beautifully and have no issues with the performance aspect of this audio book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Friedman Delmar, NY USA 05-26-13
    Michael Friedman Delmar, NY USA 05-26-13 Member Since 2014

    Bubikon

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    "Finally, a writer who can read"

    Michael Pollan joins Christopher Hitchens, Gore Vidal and Dick Cavett as an author who can read his own work well. This makes his insightful book well worth the listen. Mr. Pollan shifts well between the philosophy and history of cooking with his own explorations and anecdotes. It is a nice idea well executed.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    richard los angeles, cA, United States 05-13-13
    richard los angeles, cA, United States 05-13-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Worthwhile"

    Michael Pollan has written another book that I enjoyed and found interesting. He has delved deeply into the preparation of food and what that means to me as a physical as well as social animal.
    His easy delivery is a pleasure to listen to and what he is saying is fascinating.
    Where he explains the chemistry of our food and how it changes as it cooks was easy to follow for a layman. The cultural significance of how and why we cook is also really interesting.
    I listened to Fat,Sugar, Salt before this book and this was a good dovetail ...
    It's about time we paid closer attention to what we eat

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 05-09-13
    Andy Westport, CT, United States 05-09-13 Member Since 2010
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    "helpfully, more than skin deep"

    In his wonderfully mellow, yet engaging performance, Mr. Pollan takes us through the details of a handful of cooking journeys, from barbeque to breadmaking to cheese, kimchi and more. A terrific listen. All that was missing, understandably, was the ability to actually taste what he was telling us about.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    history buff louisiana 06-26-13
    history buff louisiana 06-26-13 Member Since 2008

    carol

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    "not up to pollan's usual standards"

    love all his books, but this one just wasn't as interesting. still good, just not one i could recommend to a new pollan reader.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris 12-07-16
    Chris 12-07-16 Member Since 2014
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    "South Park Chef"
    What made the experience of listening to Cooked the most enjoyable?

    Helps you think about the food you put into your body


    What did you like best about this story?

    Learning the direction of food and the makers behind it


    Which character – as performed by Michael Pollan – was your favorite?

    Cooking the pig with "Fire"


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The stories behind the food and the people


    Any additional comments?

    Anyone who loves food need this book in their lives.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Oliver chicago,il 10-28-16
    David Oliver chicago,il 10-28-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Educational and Entertaining"

    Food is imperative to us all and MP helps reinforce the importance of our relationship with it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S.F. Chicago, IL USA 09-15-16
    S.F. Chicago, IL USA 09-15-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Well-trodden ground"
    Would you try another book from Michael Pollan and/or Michael Pollan?

    I have read several of Michael Pollan's books, and though this one has an intriguing conceit at the heart of it, the conclusions he comes to are nothing new. The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food literally changed the my life in the sense that they expanded and transformed my thoughts about food in the modern world. This book....did not. It was same-old same-old from Pollan.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Michael Pollan?

    A professional narrator. I could hear him mentally checking out with his own material. You can tell, as a listener, when a narrator gets bored, and it becomes a struggle to listen attentively when it happens. Some writers are able to enliven their own material in a really exciting way (see: Bill Bryson), but Pollan doesn't really.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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