Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

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.

Title:Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781594204210
Format Type:

    Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation Reviews

  • Jenne

    So as background, let me tell you a little bit about the day I started/gave up reading this book. I woke up in my tiny (494 sq ft) 1920s-era house in a walkable urban neighborhood. As I went outside t...

  • Petal Eggs

    If you cannot trace your family back to immigrants or peasant stock then you are probably very well off and this book was certainly written for you. Otherwise.... read on!1. Michael Pollan is a clever...

  • Carmen

    Air elevates our food, in every sense, raises it from the earthbound subsistence of gruel to something so fundamentally transformed as to hint at human and even divine transcendence. Air lifts food up...

  • Jessica

    This is less a review of the book and more a response to other people's critiques of 'Cooked'.Anyone who tells you that this book is simply a rehash of 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' never made it past the ...

  • Barbara

    Michael Pollan, an author and journalist who writes about food, went on a three-year pilgrimage to learn about food associated with the four classical elements: fire, water, air, and earth. Along the ...

  • Judy

    The title, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, says it all. Pollan takes the reader on a food trek: a limited historical account, his own account of transformation into a better cook plus doc...

  • David

    In Michael Pollan's latest book about food, he takes the reader on a personal journey as he learns first-hand about four different types of cooking. First, he takes a trip to the North Carolina, where...

  • Katie

    I wanted to love this book so badly and there are definite 5-star parts to it, but there are also 1-star parts. Parts that I, admittedly, skimmed through. I suppose that is to be expected in a book co...

  • Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    Michael Pollan is one of my very favorited people. This is not my favorite of his books- however, it's still a good book. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't gotten on one of my OCD spree...

  • Mehrsa

    I've now read all of Pollan's book and I think I could do a really good parody at this point. I'd just have to compare a cheese curd to a dionysian struggle between our innate longing for romance and ...