As a book Cooked is beautifully formed in four distinctive sections, on the premise that the fundamentals of how we cook can be directly connected to the four natural elements of fire, water, air and earth. It explores how the power of the elements can be used to transfrom the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink.
Pollan is a superb storyteller and in this book he weaves a rich narrative around the ways that we prepare food. From the traditions of barbecue to the magic of cheese making, his stories are powerful advocacy for the argument that the further away we drift from food and its transformation, the less rich our lives become. Alongside this he makes strong arguments why eating mass produced food is making us ill.
The book is superbly accessible, and the division into sections makes it brilliant to dip in and out of. It is an essential read for anyone who loves food and who values the quality of what they eat and how they eat it.
“Well, in a world where so few of us are obliged to cook at all anymore, to choose to do so is to lodge a protest against specialization—against the total rationalization of life. Against the infiltration of commercial interests into every last cranny of our lives. To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption. (Come to think of it, our nonwaking moments as well: Ambien, anyone?) It is to reject the debilitating notion that, at least while we’re at home, production is work best done by someone else, and the only legitimate form of leisure is consumption. This dependence marketers call “freedom.”
Michael Pollan - Cooked