Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars It got me cooking again, September 29, 2013
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This review is from: Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation (Kindle Edition)
This is not a book for the quick cook, someone who just wants to get the job done with minimal time or fuss. This is a book for a person who is curious about cooking, its history, some of the chemistry, the basic concepts behind it. It's for the person who is willing and able to get excited about cooking.

The books organization into four sections based upon the classical physical elements, while not perfect (as Pollan himself notes when he points out that beer, filed under the "earth" category as a fermented food, actually makes use of all four elements), is nonetheless pleasing and somewhat helpful.

The four basic elements he lists are fire, water, air, and earth, with the four basic preparation techniques being barbecue/grilling (fire), stewing/braising (water), leavening (air), and fermentation (earth). He interviews and learns from cooks specialized in each of these areas, and passes their knowledge on to his readers. He includes information from the natural sciences, about the biological and chemical mechanisms underlying the transformations we call "cooking". He goes into various theories as to how various forms of cooking came about, including a fairly extensive section about what is called the "Cooking Hypothesis" of human evolution.
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