Edible Reads: Cooked
Just when you thought Michael Pollan couldn't possibly write another compelling book about the same subject – food – here comes Cooked. As a farmer, I've often thought the challenge to making a living farming is that people don't know how to cook. They don't buy the full variety of seasonal whole foods that I and other small-scale farmers grow because they have no idea what to do with them.
Pollan's journey into learning to cook with the four elements – fire, water, air, and earth – is a riveting exploration of the history, culture, and necessity surrounding the preparation of food. Considering his wide sphere of influence, this offers promise for the local food movement, as it holds the potential to encourage us all to dive into the culinary world ourselves.
We follow him into the barbeque pits of North Carolina, to French bakeries and cheese making nunneries, to wild fermenters' brewhouses, and even into the Wonder Bread factory to explore the wide range of traditions that, in essence, utilize the elements of nature to create an external stomach, freeing us up for pursuits other than chewing raw food for hours.
"To brew beer," he notes, "to make cheese, to bake a loaf of bread, to braise a pork shoulder, is to be forcibly reminded that all these things are not just products, in fact are not even really 'things.' Most of what presents itself to us in the marketplace as a product is in truth a web of relationships, between people, yes, but also between ourselves and all the other species on which we still depend."