Cooked (Pollan): Book Review

Cooking is not just an activity that involves you sweating it out in the kitchen, but it is an art in itself. If done correctly and patiently, using the right ingredients and techniques, you don’t just whip up great dishes, but create memories that will linger on in the mind of those who are lucky enough to eat it.

In Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan, published in 2013, the author explores the impact of four of the most powerful elements of nature – air, water, fire and earth – on the food that we eat. From baking to fermenting, he experiments with some of the best chefs in the world to discover how beautifully these four elements shape and cook the food that we so love to eat.

The entire world pauses to read a culinary book that is written by the renowned journalist, Michael Pollan. It is no wonder that after penning down several critically acclaimed non-fiction books based on food and culinary science such as In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, his next piece of work, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, has taken the world by storm. It is difficult to find an author as passionate about food and the role it plays in the evolution of mankind as Pollan. So the book certainly deserves your attention if you love food.

Readers have loved how the food systematically breaks down into the four sections of fire, air, earth and water giving ample explanation of how each of them shape and cook the food separately in their own unique way. It will take you on a journey starting from the basic techniques of cooking to how they have evolved over the centuries, and how this evolution has shaped our society and inter-personal relationships.

The book also makes a point to remind its readers how the modern man is losing his touch with the real methods of cooking. Relying on processed food to take care of our nutritional requirements weakens us and the entire cycle of ecological inter dependence. In fact, the author claims that by adopting a healthier cooking practice, we can fight health issues successfully and go back to restoring our disturbed relationship with nature.

In 2016 Pollan and Alex Gibney turned the book into a 4-part documentary series released exclusively on NetFlix which brought stunning visuals to Pollan’s story.

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation is 496 pages long and currently available on Amazon in  Kindle, Hardcover, Paperback, Audible, Audio CD formats.

Michael Pollan is also well known for his phrase, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” from his book In Defense of Food, as well as his book The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and various other books, documentaries, and lectures (e.g. Michael Pollan: “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation” | Talks at Google).


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