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Comment: Some corner dings. The cover shows normal wear and tear. The dust jacket shows normal wear and tear. There is light highlighting or handwriting through out the book. Text only, no supplement included. Item ships secure with Fulfillment By Amazon, Prime customers get 2nd day at no charge!
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Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation Hardcover


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Frequently Bought Together

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation + Food Rules: An Eater's Manual + The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
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Best Books of the Month
Best of the Month
Amazon's editors selected this title as a Best Book of the Month--and they asked Michael Pollan for his list of essential cookbooks. See it on the Amazon Books blog.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The; 1 edition (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594204217
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594204210
  • Product Dimensions: 2.4 x 3.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013: Who has untangled the nature of modern America’s relationship with food more effectively than Michael Pollan? After sharing the experience of growing his own food in Second Nature, he illuminated how our appetites drive the evolution of edible plants with The Botany of Desire. Then he pondered The Omnivore’s Dilemma, weighing our precarious food chain and popularizing the pleasures of eating local; In Defense of Food and Food Rules distilled his conclusions into a manifesto and a manual. With Cooked, he closes the seed-to-table loop with a passionate exploration of the satisfying transformation of grilling, braising, baking, and fermenting--and their primal roots. Learning to cook elevated humans from lone animals into increasingly intelligent, civilized groups, and though we spend scant time doing real cooking, we’ve become obsessed with watching people cook--a paradox that points to longing for a lost experience. Through his own experiences making and enjoying food with pit masters, chefs, bakers, and “fermentos,” he retraces our path to connection with real ingredients and health for people and planet. Whether you’re sympathetic or skeptical, you can’t help but appreciate Pollan’s genius for conveying the elemental appeal of making a meal. --Mari Malcolm

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Pollan’s newest treatise on how food reaches the world’s tables delves into the history of how humankind turns raw ingredients into palatable and nutritious food. To bring some sense of order to this vast subject, he resurrects classical categories of fire, water, air, and earth. Pollan visits pit masters to learn what constitutes authentic barbecue. An Italian-trained Iranian American teaches him the subtleties of proper cooking in pots, how to coax maximum flavor from humble vegetables, herbs, meats, and water. Baking trains Pollan to watch, listen, and feel the action of living yeasts in doughs. The harnessing of fungi and molds to ferment sauerkraut and beer and produce cheeses illuminates the fine and ever-shifting boundaries between tastiness and rot and how the human palate can be trained. Four recipes accompany the text, and an extensive bibliography offers much deeper exploration. Pollan’s peerless reputation as one of America’s most compelling expositors of food and human sustainability will boost demand. --Mark Knoblauch

More About the Author

Michael Pollan is the author of five books: Second Nature, A Place of My Own, The Botany of Desire, which received the Borders Original Voices Award for the best nonfiction work of 2001 and was recognized as a best book of the year by the American Booksellers Association and Amazon, and the national bestsellers, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and In Defense of Food. A longtime contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, Pollan is also the Knight Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley. His writing on food and agriculture has won numerous awards, including the Reuters/World Conservation Union Global Award in Environmental Journalism, the James Beard Award, and the Genesis Award from the American Humane Association.

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Customer Reviews

Buy the book, read it, lend it, gift it to others.
Captain Lan
I have read all of Michael Pollan's books - and they are all informative and well written.
B. J. Malupo
It will change the way you think about what you eat and you will never be the same again.
Paula in Texas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

169 of 184 people found the following review helpful By Kristine Lofgren VINE VOICE on April 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Michael Pollan has the amazing ability to take the mundane (corn, building a workshop, plant seeds) and make it fascinating. So it shouldn't come as a surprised that Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation could take something many of us take for granted and turn it into an incredible journey.

Pollan opens the book by explaining the day that realized that all of the questions that occupy his time seem to lead back to cooking. How to improve your health? Cooking. Good way to connect with the family? Cooking (and brewing). The most important thing we can do to help reform the American food complex? Cooking. Pollan admits he has always been mildly interested in the act, but it wasn't until he realized how important it could be that he began wanting to learn how to do it in earnest. Pollan realized that though American's seem to be obsessed with cooking (Top Chef, The Taste, Anthony Bourdain, Hell's Kitchen) we seem to do very little of it.

Pollan breaks down his education into four sections, much like he broke down The Botany of Desire and The Omnivore's Dilemma. The first section, called Fire, starts out at a North Carolina BBQ. It's here that Pollan strives to solve the mystery of "pig-plus-wood-smoke-plus-time" and what makes it so darn good. He spends time with pit-masters, learning the find art of the fire, which involves everything from Freudian theory, ancient gods and the Bible to chemistry and, of course, Big Meat. Before his fire education will be over, the reader will journey with Pollan to Manhattan, Berkeley, Spain and back again.

From there we dive into Water, which starts out, inexplicably, with chopping onions.
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81 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Thompson on April 23, 2013
Format: Hardcover
To state the obvious, few people can write about food and food related issues like Michael Pollan. He has changed the way our culture--or at least well-read segments of our culture--thinks about our industrial food complex. In Cooked, Pollan takes his keen eye from large scale systems and focuses it on the kitchen and cooking (while naturally showing the connections to bigger issues). I suppose, I should write "my" kitchen, as Pollan is directing us to make this intimate and personal account. To build our relationship with food, we need to cook for ourselves, and from scratch (at least most of the time). While cooking has lost much of its esteem in our fast-paced, fast-food society, Pollan reevaluates the significance of cooking in everyday life: "Cooking, I found, gives us the opportunity, so rare in modern life, to work directly in our own support, and in the support of the people we feed. If this is not `making a living,' I don't know what is" (pg23).

In Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, Pollan pairs his sharp journalism skills with his acumen as a thoughtful analytic essayist to look more deeply at the way we transform plants and animals into food--and why a better understanding of how and why we do it matters. He observes: "The work, or process, [of cooking] retains an emotional or psychological power we can't quite shake, or don't want to. And in fact it was after a long bout of watching cooking programs on television that I began to wonder if this activity I had always taken for granted might be worth taking a little more seriously" (pg4). Not surprisingly to anyone familiar with Pollan's work, he uses cooking to help restore our connections to a healthier natural world.
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67 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Lukester TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think I've read every one of Pollan's books. I loved some, especially Omnivore's Dilemma, while others were just good (In Defense of Food). With Cooked, there were parts I loved, while other parts I was ready to skim over. In the end, I enjoyed the book immensely, but not as much as some of this others.

Like many of his other books, Pollan divides Cooked into thematic sections (Here: Fire [Grilling], Water [Cooking in water], Air [baking], and Earth[fermenting/pickling]) but they seemed a little forced, as Pollan himself seems to acknowledge. You need fire for three of the four, and yeast plays a pretty big role in both beer and bread. I get what he was trying to do, but it felt like it didn't quite work to enhance the themes of the book rather than merely provide breaking points.

His introduction sets the stage for the entire book. He identifies a dilemma in modern culture: we spend less time cooking than ever but more time watching and idolizing others who cook. Pollan explains that contemplating this dilemma triggered something in him to write this book, and I think he makes an important overarching observation: although cooking may not be the most efficient use of time, it is an alchemic process that transforms both raw foods and people. Without cooking, humans would not be what we are today. The modern trend to remove cooking from everyday life, therefore, is likely to have huge consequences on who we are. As Pollan notes, our fascination with cooking reflects the deep-seated position it holds in our lives.

The book contains long sections with meditations on what cooking is and what it means to culture, both ancient and modern, and for the most part I enjoyed them.
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