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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 Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    nickjrusso 07-20-15
    nickjrusso 07-20-15
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    "Such great investigations of human/microbial culture"

    Pollan is attentive and careful, respectful and earnest in his investigation of the different food cultures he examines throughout this book. It was a joy to listen also to his voice tell the story of his journeys, complete with contextual accents preserved.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Logan 06-24-15
    Logan 06-24-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Great book!"

    Fantastic! Very exciting and inspiring! I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about food.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Martin 05-27-15
    Martin 05-27-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Captivating"

    This book gave me a lot to think about when it comes to the eating and prepping of food. I recommend it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas B. 04-08-15
    Thomas B. 04-08-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Groan!"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone who enjoys information less and flowery empty prose more.


    What was most disappointing about Michael Pollan’s story?

    The story might be good but I keep just groaning in remorse as he once again mounts the steed of unimaginitive thesaurus work to inflate a decent set of words into somehow literary artistry.

    He normally fails and honestly after 2 hours he was giving me anxiety like watching an overconfident middleschooler give a book report.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Michael Pollan?

    I enjoyed the omnivores dilemma, and botany of desire was great


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Boredom


    Any additional comments?

    Final note as a southerner: He does not get barbecue, and his ridiculous parable of a chinese farmer inventing roasted meat was obnoxiously mentioned too often.

    All I want is to be enraptured about a subject like bill bryson. Random year in the 1900's, this old house, that worlds fair....but somehow its interesting. This book is taking one of the most interesting premises, cooking, and manages to crush it to a dry mouth powder.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    justine 04-07-15
    justine 04-07-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Great!"

    I love Michael Pollan's books but sometimes found them hard to get through. This was my first audible book and what a difference listening made! Michael was gave a great, personal performance. I can't wait to read the rest of the collection.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rachel 03-29-15
    Rachel 03-29-15
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    "Enlivening."

    Easy to listen to. Each section took me to my kitchen. I how to try all these some day.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jane Rogers, AR 12-22-14
    Jane Rogers, AR 12-22-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Fascinating!"

    Michael Pollan does it again with humor, incredible history and hands on experience. The first section was a bit intense, but still fascinationg. I love the journalistic approach and yet it feels and is very personal.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael 09-17-14
    Michael 09-17-14
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    "Wow, just wow"
    What made the experience of listening to Cooked the most enjoyable?

    Pollan's unique and rich storytelling style truly made this audiobook experience special, on top of his incredible writing of the book to begin with


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Cooked?

    I loved hearing about his experiences exploring BBQ and learning the ropes himself. I loved how he tied in the use of fire in ritual.


    What does Michael Pollan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Hearing him read his own writing, it made the book more personal and intimate than just reading it.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shivani 08-04-14
    Shivani 08-04-14
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    "Classy Food Erotica"
    Would you listen to Cooked again? Why?

    I have already listened to it again.
    Everything looks palatable and acceptable against a background of beautiful food and its seductive description. This book is perfect for readers who want to read about food - and about life in context to food. Michael Pollan so cleverly touches upon myriad 'touchy' issues such as religion, gender, as well as our present day lives.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Cooked?

    Pollan describing his family's microwave night experiment...


    What does Michael Pollan bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Oh after listening to him, I feel all authors should try reading their own books. He brought so much life to the book. Also, only he knew what tone he meant the written words in the book to be read in...if that makes sense.


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

    About how humans justify animal sacrifice


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    melissa miles 03-26-14
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    "Hands-down, the BEST Pollan to date!"
    What did you love best about Cooked?

    As both a Biologist &, a cook, I enjoyed hearing the science (& history) behind various cooking methods, the ways in which we humans have found our way to all the various foods, recipes, ferments that so many cultures enjoy. Evolution plays a large part in the story.


    What did you like best about this story?

    As a child I remember asking my "non-foodie" parents why & how people came up with so many cuisines (each culture, having its own signature foods/dishes, etc.). This book (finally) provides answers to some of those questions. Bravo to Pollan. His research (sometimes, hands-on, is Solid!).


    What about Michael Pollan’s performance did you like?

    Pollan is easy to listen to, likely because it's obvious from his voice, he cares about this subject (otherwise, he likely wouldn't have bothered to write a book on it).


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Ah ha moments abound!


    Any additional comments?

    An Excellent title for ANYONE who eats! ;)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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