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
Someone who enjoys information less and flowery empty prose more.
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.
I enjoyed the omnivores dilemma, and botany of desire was great
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.
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!
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