Saturday, December 20, 2014


Cooked: A Natural History of TransformationCooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First thoughts: Another solid food book by Michael Pollan, though this one didn't hold my interest as much as his previous books. I liked how he split it into sections (Fire, Water, Air, Earth), but found that if I wasn't interested in the exact thing he was cooking, I started to skim.

Where I read: in between making chicken noodle soup (from a whole chicken), pumpkin bread, and lots of fall salads.

Recommended for: cookers, bakers, brewers, grillers, eaters, humans.

Favorite quotes (and basically my thoughts about cooking):
"...most cooking manages to be agreeably absorbing without being too demanding intellectually. It leaves plenty of mental space for daydreaming and reflection." -p19

"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." -p22

"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." -p22

"...the not-cook option means that people can also, for the first time, choose to cook purely for the pleasure of doing it." -p130-131

"The more time a nation devotes to food preparation at home, the lower its rate of obesity." -p192

"You want Americans to eat less? I have the diet for you. Cook it yourself. Eat anything you want--just as long as you're willing to cook it yourself." --Harry Balzer, p193

"After a week in front of the screen, the opportunity to work with my hands--with all my senses, in fact--is always a welcome change of pace." -p195

"It seems to me that one of the great luxuries of life at this point is to be able to do one thing at a time, one thing to which you give yourself wholeheartedly. Unitasking." -p195

FIRE: barbecue pork. Interesting, but not something I'll ever make.
WATER: stews, braises, and soups. All me right here--these are the recipes I can make with my eyes closed.
AIR: bread. Makes me want to try my hand at bread baking.
EARTH: ferments, pickles, alcohols. These are the foods of my people, but again, not something I think I'll ever make.

Final thoughts: Cooked raised my curiosity for the history of the way foods are made. It makes me proud to be a cooker/comfortable in the kitchen.

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