Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

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Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

Format:  Hardcover,

468 pages

Publisher: Penguin Group USA

Publish Date: Apr 2013

ISBN-13: 9781594204210

ISBN-10: 1594204217

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Book Information

The following content was provided by the publisher.
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 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: 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 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 su

Specifications

Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Publish Date: Apr 2013
ISBN-13: 9781594204210
ISBN-10: 1594204217
Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 468
Shipping Weight (in pounds): 1.66
Product in Inches (L x W x H): 6.5 x 9.5 x 1.25

About the author

Biography of Pollan, Michael

Michael Pollan was born in 1955 and raised on Long Island, NY. He received his B.A. in English from Bennington College in 1977 and his Masters, also in English, from Columbia University, in 1981. He is the author of Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, as well as 4 New York Times bestselling books: Food Rules: An Eater's Manual, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto, The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World.

Reviews

Review by Library Journal (2013-07-01)

Pollan both writes and narrates this chronicle of his adventures with the four elements of food preparation: fire (barbecuing); water (braising and stewing); air (bread making); and earth (fermenting pickles, cheese, and alcoholic brews). Scientific explanations of gastronomic processes, discussion of food ways, and ruminations about the "White-Flour-Industrial Complex" enhance this narrative, as do interesting metaphors. Jars of pickled vegetables are compared to bubbling tanks of colorful tropical fish; cheese, to the Eucharist! Resources at the end of the book were not recorded.

Verdict: This book is highly recommended for gastronome's, locavores, and libraries catering to such tastes. The author's excellent narration adds nuance to the recording.

- David Faucheux, Louisiana Audio Information & Reading Svcs., Lafayette

(c). Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal (2013-03-15)

New York Times best-selling author Pollan (The Botany of Desire; The Omnivore's Dilemma) delivers a thoughtful meditation on cooking that is both difficult to categorize and uniquely, inimitably his. Framing a consideration of food preparation using the classical elements-fire, air, water, earth-this title chronicles the author's own investigations into barbecue, braising, bread making, and fermentation. Encompassing the wonder of alchemy, the scientific precision of chemistry, the inevitabilities of biology, and the complexities of parsing social and cultural meaning, this work weaves history and science with Pollan's personal journey in attempting and, in some cases, mastering the techniques.

In the introduction he calls the title "a 'how-to' book, but of a very particular kind". It's more of a "why-to" book about cooking, if there can be such a thing, including a few recipes (more like patterns) and an excellent, thorough list of additional reading.

Verdict: 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.

-Courtney Greene, Indiana Univ. Lib., Bloomington

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book description

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. 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.

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