Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation

by Michael Pollan
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Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

**Now a docu-series airing on Netflix on February 19, 2016, starring Pollan as he explores how cooking transforms food and shapes our world. Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney exectuve produces the four-part series based on Pollan's book, and each episode will focus on a different natural element: fire, water, air, and earth. **

“Important, possibly life-altering, reading for every living, breathing human being." --Boston Globe

In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth—to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer.

Each section of Cooked tracks Pollan’s effort to master a single classic recipe using one of the four elements. A North Carolina barbecue pit master tutors him in the primal magic of fire; a Chez Panisse–trained cook schools him in the art of braising; a celebrated baker teaches him how air transforms grain and water into a fragrant loaf of bread; and finally, several mad-genius “fermentos” (a tribe that includes brewers, cheese makers, and all kinds of picklers) reveal how fungi and bacteria can perform the most amazing alchemies of all. The reader learns alongside Pollan, but the lessons move beyond the practical to become an investigation of how cooking involves us in a web of social and ecological relationships. Cooking, above all, connects us.

The effects of not cooking are similarly far reaching. Relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume large quantities of fat, sugar, and salt; disrupt an essential link to the natural world; and weaken our relationships with family and friends. In fact, Cooked argues, taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable. Reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, opens the door to a more nourishing life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594204210
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/23/2013
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 785,081
Product dimensions: 9.26(w) x 6.42(h) x 1.42(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

MICHAEL POLLAN is the author of six previous books, including Food Rules, In Defense of Food, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and The Botany of Desire, all New York Times bestsellers. A longtime contributor to The New York Times, he is also the Knight Professor of Journalism at Berkeley. In 2010, Time magazine named him one of the one hundred most influential people in the world.


San Francisco Bay Area, California

Date of Birth:

February 6, 1955

Place of Birth:

Long Island, New York


Bennington College, Oxford University, and Columbia University

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Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 29 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are parts of this book I enjoyed, and parts I basically flipped through. The author was far too wordy in some sections, and his comparison of the barbecue pit master to a high priest seemed over the top. This book would have little interest to anyone who is not a "foodie" or at least quite interested in cooking. I did, however enjoy the section on braising.
annie_brook More than 1 year ago
I just this book yesterday still reading the introduction it makes so much sense we have gotten out of sitting down as a family at the dinner table. We need to get back to basics cook more at home and we all will be heathier for it. Put it tjs way when we cook at home the home cook controls how much salt,fat,and sugar etc.. goes into the meal the home cook cooks at home.I have fond memeories of my mom and grandmother who toke the time to cook a meal that turned delish!!! I recommend getting this book and reading it and try cooking a meal or two at home.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love how Pollan incorporates science and history into his narratives. This is an interesting look at 4 forms of food preparation. I just wish there were more recipes. I really wanted to taste more of the food he described.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Transformative way of looking at food.  Best read in a long time.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's the first book I've read by Michael Pollan. I thoroughly enjoyed it. He's brilliant, very witty and in depth. I purchased Sandor Katz book, The Art of Fermentation on his recommendation.
jos-feltz More than 1 year ago
The book is an interesting read with many thought-provoking sections. It asks why we allow corporations to do the cooking for us when we should be cooking meals for our families ourselves. Cooking for the family provides a nurturing element that one cannot get from taking the gang to Culver's for hamburgers. Pollan's scientific descriptions of how food is transformed through cooking is fascinating and has caused me to note some of these things for my own future reference. Very enjoyable reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This might be Pollan's most important and perhaps most underappreciated work to date.
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I love this book and his views on getting back to basics when it comes to what we eat. Great job!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved his sense of humor, clairity and cohesive approach. Very informative and thoroughly enjoyable--I highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I guess I expected something different. Well written, imaginative but information drags with too many details.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book, while certainly well written and impeccably researched is quite a slog to get through. I just ran out of interest by stage 4 - earth and the fermentation process - too detailed . This is as much a history of man and food as an ode to modern cooking technique. Maybe it was the 75 pages devoted to making a loaf of bread that wore me out. A book should entertain as well as inform and this one just seemed to inform, glad i am finished.
dianthus More than 1 year ago
Way too much information and story telling for me. The Fire chapter was about NC, which was unique, but being a non-meat eater, it grossed me out. After that it got better!
gretchenhicks More than 1 year ago
I agree with his world view on food.  I've read his other books and they have changed the way I think and the way I buy food.  So excited to get this book and cook with him!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Keep writing!:) dont stop please!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey guys. Thanks for the bios. Er, bio. So far, I guess. I will add the bios on Monday, so stay tuned. Gale hands me a beaver pelt and I wrap the berries in there with careful hands. A bell sounds and echoes through the trees. "It's time for the reaping." Katniss announces. I roll my eyes. "Thank you, Captain Obvious." We run our separate ways and I take the pelt and the berries, hoping to sell it in the Hob, if the unthinkable doesn't happen. My mother lays out a short blue dress with lace and buttons. I stare in awe.--- Sorry it was so short next part at next result.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Imma do. Bye!