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Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

by

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation Cover

ISBN13: 9781594204210
ISBN10: 1594204217
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 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 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.

Review:

"Having described what's wrong with American food in his best-selling The Omnivore's Dilemma (2006), New York Times contributor Pollan delivers a more optimistic but equally fascinating account of how to do it right....A delightful chronicle of the education of a cook who steps back frequently to extol the scientific and philosophical basis of this deeply satisfying human activity." Kirkus (Starred Review)

Review:

"Because of the power of his prose and his reasoning, Cooked may prove to be just as influential as Pollan's seminal book, The Omnivore's Dilemma....The results are fascinating, but the magic of Cooked lies not in its ability to unlock the secrets of slow-roasting a whole hog or brewing beer... No, what Pollan pulls off is even more impressive: He manages to illuminate the wealth of connections that stem from our DIY time in the kitchen." The Washington Post

Review:

"[A] rare, ranging breed of narrative that manages to do all....In Pollan's dexterous hands, we get the science, the history, the inspiration, ultimately the recipe. What feels like all of it. It doesn't hurt that he also happens to be very funny." Boston Globe

Review:

"As in The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan is never less than delightful, full of curiosity, insight, and good humor. This is a book to be read, savored, and smudged with spatterings of olive oil, wine, butter, and the sulfuric streaks of chopped onion." Outside

Review:

"Spurred by a number of objectives — improving his family's general health, connecting with his teenage son, and learning how people can reduce their dependence on corporations, among others — Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma; In Defense of Food) came to the realization that he'd be able to accomplish all those goals and more if he spent more time in his kitchen. He began cooking. Divided into four chapters based on the four elements, Pollan eloquently explains how grilling with fire, braising (water), baking bread (air), and fermented foods (earth) have impacted our health and culture....Engaging and enlightening reading." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Review:

"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....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." Library Journal (starred review)

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....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." Booklist (starred review)

About the Author

Michael Pollan is the author of six previous books, including Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire, all New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to the New York Times, he is also the Knight Professor of Journalism at Berkeley. In 2010, Time magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

Robin Humelbaugh, February 20, 2013 (view all comments by Robin Humelbaugh)
If this book comes up to the promise of the introduction, it may serve to reorganize everyones out look on the food they eat. I am looking forward to a good read that reinforces what I have served and preached in my home for years.
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(2 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
seeds2013, February 20, 2013 (view all comments by seeds2013)
Wow, really looking forward to reading this and to hearing Michael Pollan May 14 when he's in town speaking.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781594204210
Subtitle:
A Natural History of Transformation
Author:
Pollan, Michael
Publisher:
Penguin Press HC, The
Subject:
Nutrition
Copyright:
Edition Description:
B-Hardcover
Publication Date:
20130423
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
480
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Business » Management
Cooking and Food » General
Cooking and Food » Methods » Miscellaneous Methods
Cooking and Food » Reference and Etiquette » Historical Food and Cooking
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Health and Self-Help » Self-Help » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Agriculture and Food
Reference » Science Reference » General

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$27.95 In Stock
Product details 480 pages Penguin Press HC, The - English 9781594204210 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Having described what's wrong with American food in his best-selling The Omnivore's Dilemma (2006), New York Times contributor Pollan delivers a more optimistic but equally fascinating account of how to do it right....A delightful chronicle of the education of a cook who steps back frequently to extol the scientific and philosophical basis of this deeply satisfying human activity."
"Review" by , "Because of the power of his prose and his reasoning, Cooked may prove to be just as influential as Pollan's seminal book, The Omnivore's Dilemma....The results are fascinating, but the magic of Cooked lies not in its ability to unlock the secrets of slow-roasting a whole hog or brewing beer... No, what Pollan pulls off is even more impressive: He manages to illuminate the wealth of connections that stem from our DIY time in the kitchen."
"Review" by , "[A] rare, ranging breed of narrative that manages to do all....In Pollan's dexterous hands, we get the science, the history, the inspiration, ultimately the recipe. What feels like all of it. It doesn't hurt that he also happens to be very funny."
"Review" by , "As in The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan is never less than delightful, full of curiosity, insight, and good humor. This is a book to be read, savored, and smudged with spatterings of olive oil, wine, butter, and the sulfuric streaks of chopped onion."
"Review" by , "Spurred by a number of objectives — improving his family's general health, connecting with his teenage son, and learning how people can reduce their dependence on corporations, among others — Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma; In Defense of Food) came to the realization that he'd be able to accomplish all those goals and more if he spent more time in his kitchen. He began cooking. Divided into four chapters based on the four elements, Pollan eloquently explains how grilling with fire, braising (water), baking bread (air), and fermented foods (earth) have impacted our health and culture....Engaging and enlightening reading."
"Review" by , "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....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."
"Review" by , "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....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."
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