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 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.
Edit out the howlingly ignorant prononouncements from anthrolopology and quotes-from-the-classics
Too much fluff obscures his tales of adventures among the foodies.
His observations on how we eat are interesting the first time around, but can not withstand his hectoring repetitions
audio is the wrong format - this should be skimmed page by page, not audited from start to finish
Michael Pollan, an author I generally liked, tries so hard not to be sexist that he is pretty darned sexist. Gee, he didn't discover cooking. And now that he has, I guess it is important. Cannot finish listening to this. He probably has a broken arm from patting himself on the back.
He cannot pronounce "culinary."
Gee, why are you telling us how to structure our reviews?
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