A Review of Cooked

photo from Michael Pollan's website press kit

photo from Michael Pollan’s website press kit

I think Michael Pollan is great. Since I am a person with a journalism degree who also happens to work in the natural food world, Pollan’s writing represents a lot of the good things from both of the fields in which I toil.

Because of this, it may come as no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed his new book, “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.” I thought it was wonderful, in fact.

In it, Pollan takes us on a journey of the four elements, exploring fire, water, air, and earth through food. He finds masters in the trade for each element and takes us along with him as he learns how to barbecue a whole hog or create a wheel of cheese.

I think what I found most captivating about the book was the sense of wonder that Pollan so easily conveyed to the reader. He was inspired by every cook, chef, or brewer, and that awe and excitement to create traditional foodstuffs made me want to stop reading and start cooking. Except I couldn’t put the book down.

As someone who already makes most meals, knows how to bake bread and brew beer, and tries to find ways to incorporate fermented foods into many dishes, there wasn’t much explained that I didn’t already know. But that was part of the beauty! The way that Pollan spun the tale, it all felt new to me, too, and it deepened my love of all things traditional and whole.

There is magic in making food. It’s so much more than sustenance, and “Cooked” did a glorious job of reminding me of that.

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