Cooked - A Natural History of Transformation
Now a docu-series streaming on Netflix, starring Pollan as he explores how cooking transforms food and shapes our world. Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney exectuve produces the four-part series based on Pollan's book, and each episode will focus on a different natural element: fire, water, air, and earth.
In Cooked, Pollan 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.
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 reader 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. Cooking, above all, connects us.
The effects of not cooking are similarly far reaching. Relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume large 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.
It's not often that a life-changing book falls into one's lap ... Yet Michael Pollan's Cooked is one of them. One it's impossible to read and not act on ... Embrace bacteria, cook thoughtfully and slow, and taste some of the most luscious food you've ever eaten, this powerful book says. And do it for the people you love as well as the invisible soldiers inside you who are fighting to keep you strong. Cooked is a book of revelations for today's hungry human animal. Be changed by it Sunday Telegraph In Cooked, Pollan continues his campaign to get us to eat properly and pleasurably by making meals from scratch ... a warm, thoughtful narrative in which Pollan encounters everything from a surfing baker who makes the perfect sourdough to a cheese-making nun. This is a love song to old, slow kitchen skills at their delicious best -- Kathryn Hughes Guardian BOOKS OF THE YEAR [A] rare, ranging breed of narrative that manages to do all ... In Pollan's dexterous hands, we get the science, the history, the inspiration, ultimately the recipe. What feels like all of it. It doesn't hurt that he also happens to be very funny Boston Globe Pollan's book is many things, among them a memoir of learning to master the absolute basics of culinary creation: fire, water, air and earth. As Pollan chats with cheesemaking nuns and discovers Walt Whitman's views on composting, he reminds us that cooking used to be all about connection - with the world around us, with other times and cultures, and with those we cook for ... this book [is] both approachable and rewarding -- Hephzibah Anderson Prospect As in The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan is never less than delightful, full of curiosity, insight, and good humor. This is a book to be read, savoured, and smudged with spatterings of olive oil, wine, butter, and the sulfuric streaks of chopped onion Outside Pollan eloquently explains how grilling with fire, braising (water), baking bread (air), and fermented foods (earth) have impacted our health and culture ... Engaging and enlightening Publishers Weekly A thoughtful meditation on cooking that is both difficult to categorize and uniquely, inimitably his ... Intensely focused yet wide ranging, beautifully written, thought provoking, and, yes, fun, Pollan's latest is not to be missed by those interested in how, why, or what we cook and eat Library Journal Having described what's wrong with American food in his best-selling The Omnivore's Dilemma (2006), New York Times contributor Pollan delivers a more optimistic but equally fascinating account of how to do it right ... A delightful chronicle of the education of a cook who steps back frequently to extol the scientific and philosophical basis of this deeply satisfying human activity Booklist [Pollan] explores the same way a naturalist might, by studing the animals, plants and microbes involved in cooking, and delving into history, culture and chemistry ... he describes the remarkable transformations that take place in the humble saucepan ... Side by side with Mr Pollan the naturalist is the author as activist ... his book is a hymn to why people should be enticed back into the kitchen Economist