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  • Cooked

  • A Natural History of Transformation
  • Written by: Michael Pollan
  • Narrated by: Michael Pollan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 25 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (50 ratings)

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Cooked

Written by: Michael Pollan
Narrated by: Michael Pollan
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Publisher's Summary

Fire, water, air, earth - our most trusted food expert recounts the story of his culinary education

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2013 Michael Pollan (P)2013 Penguin Audio

What the critics say

"Pollan narrates his book in a conversational style filled with conviction and eagerness that drive the listener to join his evolutionary quest." (AudioFile)

What listeners say about Cooked

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Exquisite

Intoxicating prose, mouthwatering descriptions, well delivered. One of Michael Pollan's best, and most thought provoking.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Fire, Water, Air, Earth Cooking!

Excellent thoughts on cooking being more than tasting, smelling, eating...it is about the love put into the making of amazing foods! Thank you!

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  • 2021-03-30

he must be getting paid by the word

If you are familiar with Michael Pollan you might have an idea of what you are getting into here. If not, please understand that while I agree with his general argument about the importance of cooking our own food, I can see how some people would not like his style. He can sound pretentious (maybe unintentionally) and he is definitely verbose. I feel I'm getting a better deal with longer books, but this particular one would probably be better at half the length. Overall, with this book he is likely preaching to the choir, as he was with me, and his style is likely to frustrate more than convert people who do not already care about what they are eating.

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1 person found this helpful