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Cooked Audiobook

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

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Publisher's Summary

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.

Download the accompanying reference guide.

©2013 Michael Pollan (P)2013 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

"Pollan narrates his book in a conversational style filled with conviction and eagerness that drive the listener to join his evolutionary quest." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.5 (1509 )
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Performance
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  •  
    David Oliver chicago,il 10-28-16
    David Oliver chicago,il 10-28-16 Member Since 2012
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    21
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    "Educational and Entertaining"

    Food is imperative to us all and MP helps reinforce the importance of our relationship with it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S.F. Chicago, IL USA 09-15-16
    S.F. Chicago, IL USA 09-15-16 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "Well-trodden ground"
    Would you try another book from Michael Pollan and/or Michael Pollan?

    I have read several of Michael Pollan's books, and though this one has an intriguing conceit at the heart of it, the conclusions he comes to are nothing new. The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food literally changed the my life in the sense that they expanded and transformed my thoughts about food in the modern world. This book....did not. It was same-old same-old from Pollan.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Michael Pollan?

    A professional narrator. I could hear him mentally checking out with his own material. You can tell, as a listener, when a narrator gets bored, and it becomes a struggle to listen attentively when it happens. Some writers are able to enliven their own material in a really exciting way (see: Bill Bryson), but Pollan doesn't really.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad M. Chicago, IL 09-08-16
    Brad M. Chicago, IL 09-08-16
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    5
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    "Ugh"
    What would have made Cooked better?

    The entire thing smacks of pretension. The topic is interesting, but the approach is stale.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Michael Pollan again?

    Absolutely not.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Michael Pollan’s performances?

    Absolutely not.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Cooked?

    Get rid of the whole thing and find an author that has something to say.


    Any additional comments?

    Painful experience. Unfortunately, I couldn't refund this purchase for some reason and use the credit for something worthwhile.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Imago 09-05-16
    Imago 09-05-16 Member Since 2015
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    "This is an amazing book"

    As a horticulturist, gardener and cook this book was amazing! Written only the way Michael Pollan writes!! Every moment was delightful, educational and dare I say transformational. All I can say is Thank you!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    08-03-16
    08-03-16
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    "Test"

    gunfight flights unchecked insights including Genghis hcncngcbmcngcgnc enthusiastic including including including highlighting including in including including highlighting including including

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Josh 08-02-16
    Josh 08-02-16 Member Since 2015
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    6
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    "Love it!"

    Funny. Informative. Inspirational. Motivational. Makes you want to cook, make bread, brew beer. It's even better than the incredible Netflix series that's based on it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sazzy 07-25-16
    sazzy 07-25-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Fabulous"

    I really enjoyed this book. The study of cooking from historical, philosophical, scientific, and practical standpoints appealed to my magpie mind.
    Having Michael Pollan read his own words made feel less like narration and more like being told favorite stories over a visit.
    The book was great and has inspired me to explore cooking as an art rather than mere survival.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melissa 07-15-16
    Melissa 07-15-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Food for thought"

    This has given me so much to think about and changed my perspective in a lot of ways. It was nice to be inspired to try to make new things instead of being lectured or scared into stopping eating or lifestyle habits. The Netflix series is great, but as always, the book was so much better.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pete 06-21-16
    Pete 06-21-16 Member Since 2015
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    6
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    "Poetic"

    Transform the way you think about food and it's effects on individuals, families, and civilization.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Chapel 05-25-16
    Ryan Chapel 05-25-16
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    "Great info and insight!"

    I had watched the 4-part Cooked series on Netflix before reading this. The book was (of course) way more detailed and contained quite a few parts not in the show. I highly recommend this!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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