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 found this book to be fascinating. Masterfully blending biology, chemistry, politics, history, health and culture (pun intended) Micheal Pollan bakes an airy loaf of wisdom that's also entertaining. Cooked is about how we humans interact with our food. It's something we all do but unless you're a professional foodie something we seldom think about. I highly recommend this read and especially this audio version read by Pollan.
Great book. Michael Pollan fans will love it. BUT, in the past, his books were narrated by Scott Brick, who is fantastic. I wish the author didn't narrate the audiobook.
As a long-time foodie, home chef, and serial do-it-yourselfer, I greatly enjoyed Michael Pollan's treatise on food alchemy. The story is engaging, I learned a few new things, and Pollan does an excellent job of narrating in a natural, conversational tone. I only listen to audiobooks during my long commute, and I found myself anxious to get back on the road so I could listen to it some more. If you're passionate about food and cooking, you won't be disappointed!
This book was not as transformative a listen as Botany of Desire, but I really enjoyed it and found myself talking about it a lot with friends. (always a good sign) It made me want to get into my kitchen on a weekend and experiment with long-ago clipped recipes. Very enjoyable.
I am an English teacher in China and can now read and write some Chinese.I have been to 13 countries on 4 continents.I am an avid audiophile
Botany of Desire made me think about our close relationship to food and Omnivore's Dilemma was laid out so we could follow an entire meal from garden or farm to the table. In this book Michael plots the history of cooking from its primitive inception to the present. We learn that it is cooking that truly separates us from animals. He goes through barbeque, boiling, fermenting and distilling. Michael makes us think we should all go out and try our hands at some old fashion craft like baking bread or brewing beer for the sheer joy of making something we have come to expect prepackaged at the supermarket. I also happen to agree with Michael that Americans seem to want to watch cooking shows,but not to engage in cooking. This summer I suggested my friends and I cook something at home. It seemed to me like people want to go out just for the opportunity to all eat something different. I love the idea of sharing different techniques and personal feeling I get from eating a friends food or seeing what they think of my creations. America's kitchen all seems to come from a box or a can. Now that I live in China I have tried my hand at things like hummus or soup. We don't have Campbell's here. This is another great work, but I still feel like Omnivore's Dilemma was his best. It made me think about how industrialize food has become.As our time strapped world wants everything in an instant; we become a world that loses appreciation for the preparation of wholesome and delicious food and the skills to bring out its inherent flavor.
I am enjoying this book so much I decided to write a review before I finished. I usually am skeptical of author-narrated books since they don't always compare well with professionally narrated audios. This is definitely not the case with COOKED. I like the author's narration very much, he reads at a perfect speed, his voice is pleasant and he sounds like he knows what he's talking about. There's an aspect of direct communication and connection that really adds a lot to the audio.
Further, this is such a fascinating exploration of food and the history of cooking that I cannot stop listening and re-listening to some parts of the book a second time. I really like the way Pollan approaches his topics, illustrating his points through experiences with individuals who are experts at doing the kind of cooking he is studying and scientific studies on different chemical reactions that take place during cooking. I also enjoy the historical perspective.
I am almost halfway through the book and well into the chapter on water, or pot-cooking after having very much appreciated both the introduction and the section on cooking with fire. One of my favorite ways to listen to audiobooks is when I am cooking, which makes listening to this particular audiobook especially nice. Highly recommended read for anyone who loves to cook, loves to eat, or is interested in the role of cooking in human history.
Michael Pollan joins Christopher Hitchens, Gore Vidal and Dick Cavett as an author who can read his own work well. This makes his insightful book well worth the listen. Mr. Pollan shifts well between the philosophy and history of cooking with his own explorations and anecdotes. It is a nice idea well executed.
Michael Pollan has written another book that I enjoyed and found interesting. He has delved deeply into the preparation of food and what that means to me as a physical as well as social animal.
His easy delivery is a pleasure to listen to and what he is saying is fascinating.
Where he explains the chemistry of our food and how it changes as it cooks was easy to follow for a layman. The cultural significance of how and why we cook is also really interesting.
I listened to Fat,Sugar, Salt before this book and this was a good dovetail ...
It's about time we paid closer attention to what we eat
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.
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