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
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.
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.
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
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.
Hearing him read his own writing, it made the book more personal and intimate than just reading it.
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.
Pollan describing his family's microwave night experiment...
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.
About how humans justify animal sacrifice
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.
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!).
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).
Ah ha moments abound!
An Excellent title for ANYONE who eats! ;)
Just like his other books this book is both highly informative and greatly entertaining. I can't get enough. It's kind of a foodie's gonzo journalism where Pollan's experience and reflections are part of the education. Pollan does do a fine job as narrator, but I do miss Scott Brick the narrator of Omnivore's Dilemma! Scott is like drinking your first ever IPA. At first it's off-putting, and then after a couple you can't wait for another.
This book answered many questions for me, and gave me the opportunity to discover previously unappreciated aspects of food and cooking, as well as the nuts and bolts mechanics of how food goes from raw ingredients to a great meal. I particularly enjoyed the way he divided the topics to correspond to preparation. I actually came away feeling like I could, and should, attempt some of the more advanced cooking techniques that he describes. Extremely well written and as entertaining as it is informative!
I would listen to "Cooked" again because there were so many metaphors about cooking and life that it was hard to put them all in order. It was very good to see how we are shaped by our culture reflected in our food.
If the section on bread doesn't make you want to go out and sample a good loaf of artisan bread or better yet to make you yearn to learn how to make it then something is wrong. While listening to this section I could almost smell the bread baking.
There was an ease to what he was saying.
I listened to it in two sittings, so that was close. It is that good.
Only Michael Pollan can take the idea of how we cook our food and make that most basic of activities relate to who we are and how we came to be human.
I was intrigued by the idea that we are the only animals who cook our food...and that may be what, in fact, what allowed our brains to get enough energy-dense meals fast enough to allow our energy-hog brains to develop. Fire also took us from solitary hunter/gatherers to social beings. The last chapter, about fermentation, was absolutely fascinating. What we have done to damage the microflora we need in our co-evolution with the microbial world is the information we need to make better decisions as a society.
I've never heard Michael Pollan read before, and, of course, he is the perfect voice for his words. He is a charming and engaging reader. (In a tiny comment, he do wish he say genu-in rather then genu-wine.)
I am an unabashed fan of this writer whose brilliance and intriguing topics touch all of us in such fundamental ways!
"Great book, brilliant narration"
Pollan did a great job writing and narrating "Cooked" and I would recommend this to anyone looking to learn about the more philosophical side of food!
A great book for everyone, not just those interested in cooking. Michael is extremely talented writer (and researcher). I think I will come back to this book again. There is so much content that one read is not enough.
I can listen to this book over and over and keep enjoying it and learning from it
Excellent read, changes your perspectives on cooking, science and humanity. Thoroughly enjoyable and educational. Will read again soon :)
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