Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $4.92 shipping
Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation Hardcover – April 23, 2013
|New from||Used from|
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
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. 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.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
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. For example, although it is somewhat tangential to cooking, Pollan discusses the role that microbiotics play in our gut and the effect on our health. Tying this topic into modern cooking, he raises some very interesting questions about the effect of a "no-microbe" policy on our health. As Pollan excels at pointing out repeatedly, the food we eat today is at the long end of the combined evolution of man and food: we eat what we eat and cook food the way we do because it is necessary to our survival. Removing certain types of food (e.g., whole grain bread, fermented vegetables) without thinking of the consequences is fraught with peril.
The meditations are interspersed with stories about masters of cooking and Pollan's own personal experiences. In each section, Pollan seeks out the masters in each particular field to teach him about cooking. As with his other books, Pollan always finds the philosophers within a certain field that combine their expertise with an ability to discuss their field in a way that opens your eyes. Who knew that bread baking would be so complex and more of an art form than simple mixing? Pollan is a masterful storyteller, combining an ability to explain complex issues with a sharp sense of humor and self-deprecation.
With Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan changed how I think about the world. For me, Cooked was different in that rather than changing how I see the world of food, he reinforced ideas I already have and gave voice to some subconscious thoughts I had about the importance of cooking my own food. Although I have always enjoyed cooking, Pollan helps highlight WHY cooking is so enjoyable and so worthwhile. I especially enjoyed his section on brewing beer and have been inspired to try to brew my own batch. As he notes in his afterword, many of these endeavors seem at first glance to be an incredible waste of time and totally inefficient. As Pollan explains, however, there is a "satisfaction that comes from temporarily breaking free of one's accustomed role as the producer of one thing -- whatever it is we sell into the market for a living -- and the passive consumer of everything else." Over the course of the book, Pollan successfully proves that cooking is special and shouldn't be given up so easily, and there are benefits to slowing down and becoming immersed in something so basic as the food we eat. So while I can't claim that Cooked is as eye-opening as some of Pollan's other works, I enjoyed it immensely.
The author was descriptive in describing the food as well as people. At times, parts were funny.
However, one thing was missing. In the author's introduction, we are told about his relationship with his son, how it improved through cooking for him. Well, we don't hear much about his son until the real end of the book. I expected his cooking journey would be intertwined with his son's relationship.
In the book Pollan takes you through the basics of making food - soups, bread, fermentation overall, meat roasting etc and talks about the history of cooking overtime. He speaks honestly and openly about his own misconceptions and you feel like you are expanding your knowledge with him as the book progresses.
I don't think there has been a time since listening to this audiobook that I have started a meal by cooking up some onions in oil on the stove and not thought of Pollan. When you read the book, you'll know what I mean!