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.
©2013 Michael Pollan (P)2013 Penguin Audio
Say something about yourself!
Michael Pollan's passion and interest comes through clearly. He made me become fascinated with sourdough bread and I bought and now care for a sourdough starter (named Fred).
Michael Pollan's experience and passion about his journey in expanding his cooking skills is contagious and thoroughly enjoyable.
I expected another great book on food from Michael Pollan but I got so much more. He takes you on a journey of not only how the elements to draw the maximum taste and nutrition from our food but also how each type of cooking engages and enhances our culture and family.
I also learned how modern food preparation methods that intend to shortcut the amount of work in our meals also shortcut the flavor and especially the nutrition.
I loved this book and talked about it with my friends and coworkers.
Daughter of a librarian, trained as a librarian, a lifelong lover of books. Mysteries, sci fi, fantasy, biography, true crime, romance, cooking, classic films, etc.!
A look at learning how the four "ancient" elements change food, and how these changes have changed us as humans. I was skeptical after seeing a brief interview, but after listening to the book, getting the whole explanation instead of the 15-second sound bite, I have recommended this book to co-workers, family, and friends. Pollan does not write from a clinically detached place, he actually learned to bake bread from his own natural starter culture, braise with the best of them, brew at home, pickle and ferment veggies, make cheese, and barbeque. He shares the triumphs of the processes, as well as the failures, and his encounters with the true artists he met along the way. He has learned that cooking can bring the family together, especially when the interest and passion is shared with the other members of the family. I think the fact that he still continues to make bread, braise, and brew occasionally speaks volumes to the satisfaction that can come from food lovingly and artfully produced and appreciated. When you learn to appreciate the art and effort that go into the preparation, you are much more conscious and conscientious in the eating and drinking!
I would not listen to this in one marathon evening or even weekend, but it is worth the time to change your understanding and appreciation of cooking.
I have listened to 2 previous audiobooks by this author and found them to be very good. This book was as good or maybe even better than the other two books. Michael Pollan did a great job narrating it and I feel like it added a lot to my enjoyment of the book. I will likely listen to it again before long!
I have enjoyed many of Mr. Pollans books and was excited to find this addition to his self read collection. I really enjoyed " A place of my own" and hoped it would be more along the lines of that than some of his past dissections of the Lipid Theory. I enjoyed those also but this book really made me see cooking in a different light. I took some valuable knowledge away from this writing. I became friends with the sour dough culture in my kitchen, appreciate the baking process so much more and open up a whole new world when it comes to meat. The beer I have yet to try. For those who even have a slight interest in cooking.... Michael Pollan will or tries very well to change your perspective on the subject in the way most Pollan fans would expect. Loads of research and thought go in to all his works and he did not fail here.
The first criticism I heard about the book was it "nothing more than just a cookbook. The sage of better farming and other such wisdom about changes needed to our agricultural world should do better." Of course this profound analysis came from looking at the book and thumbing through the pages when it first arrived at Costco.
In reality this really is the transformation of Pollan's writing from science and engineering to why art is more the reason for our humanity; more than our technology. Cooking is the basis for and history of our culture. Could it be the reason our culture is sick and dying, is because our cooking is a metaphysical manifestation of the sick and dying industrial age?
It could be argued that specialization created our industrial consumer culture, but yet it is specialization that is making too big to fail, the cause and effect of future failure. Cooked is but a minor analysis of what truly makes us human and puts the focus back to where it belongs, on the transformation of ingredients into transformational food, rather than fast food junkies, less human, and less healthy
Anyone who is interested in learning a little more about the basic fundamentals of cookig will enjoy this book.
Husband, Father, Fighter Pilot and Granite Stater.
FIRE WATER AIR
This book inspired me to try out some bread making. It will for you too!
Fantastic narration by the author. His previous narrator was a little snotty...
Yes, I would rewind chapters just to listen to them again.
Artistic Director of Available Light Theatre.
The surfing bread-maker.
He's simultaneously highly intelligent, but homely and casual.
I cried a couple of times.
Unbelievably, this book is almost as good as The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's not as consistently good, but it reaches similar heights on many occasions. The chapter about bread is divine.
This is not the book I was looking for. The first two chapters describe the importance of eating together and how we eat more processed (not cooked) food. The next three chapters cover barbequing and the authors adventure barbequing with a master. At this point I stopped. I wanted a scientific listen and find it in: "Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human." This book is referenced a couple of times in "Cooked". While I am a Pollan fan, and it is unfair to review a book without finishing it, I wanted something more thought provoking.
There are no listener reviews for this title yet.
Report Inappropriate Content