Michael Pollan is an award-winning author, activist and journalist. His no.1 international bestselling books about the way we live today - including The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defence of Food and Cooked (also a successful Netflix series) -- combine meticulous reporting with anthropology, philosophy, culture, health and natural history. Time magazine has named him one of the hundred most influential people in the world. He lives in the Bay Area of California with his wife and son.
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.
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. In each case, Pollan examines the process as well as the science of barbecue, bread, and beer-making in addition to each particular method's effect on humanity. Cooking over high heat, for example, enabled primates' brains to grow much bigger and digest their food faster, making them more efficient; fermented foods like kimchi can promote and encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut, a function that highly processed foods are unable to accomplish. These and other revelations (obesity rates are inversely correlated with the amount of time spent on food preparation, "microbiologists believe that onions, garlic and spices protect us from the growth of dangerous bacteria on meat," which could explain why we are drawn to flavorful foods, etc.) make for engaging and enlightening reading. Liz Farrell, ICM. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
It's not often that a life-changing book falls into one's lap ...
Yet Michael Pollan's Cooked is one of them. One it's impossible to
read and not act on ... Embrace bacteria, cook thoughtfully and
slow, and taste some of the most luscious food you've ever eaten,
this powerful book says. And do it for the people you love as well
as the invisible soldiers inside you who are fighting to keep you
strong. Cooked is a book of revelations for today's hungry human
animal. Be changed by it * Sunday Telegraph *
In Cooked, Pollan continues his campaign to get us to eat properly and pleasurably by making meals from scratch ... a warm, thoughtful narrative in which Pollan encounters everything from a surfing baker who makes the perfect sourdough to a cheese-making nun. This is a love song to old, slow kitchen skills at their delicious best -- Kathryn Hughes * Guardian BOOKS OF THE YEAR *
[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 *
Pollan's book is many things, among them a memoir of learning to master the absolute basics of culinary creation: fire, water, air and earth. As Pollan chats with cheesemaking nuns and discovers Walt Whitman's views on composting, he reminds us that cooking used to be all about connection - with the world around us, with other times and cultures, and with those we cook for ... this book [is] both approachable and rewarding -- Hephzibah Anderson * Prospect *
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, savoured, and smudged with spatterings of olive oil, wine, butter, and the sulfuric streaks of chopped onion * Outside *
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 * Publishers Weekly *
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 *
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 * Booklist *
[Pollan] explores the same way a naturalist might, by studing the animals, plants and microbes involved in cooking, and delving into history, culture and chemistry ... he describes the remarkable transformations that take place in the humble saucepan ... Side by side with Mr Pollan the naturalist is the author as activist ... his book is a hymn to why people should be enticed back into the kitchen * Economist *