Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cooked by Michael Pollan

by Pecan Kai

Cooked is a book that talks about the science and culture that surrounds food. It is written by Michael Pollan, who is the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. The book takes you on a journey with the 4 elements that prepare food (fire water, air and earth) along  with sharing his opinions of what it means to cook. In fire, he goes on a journey looking at barbeque. He starts in the south and ends up in the Basque region of Spain at a restaurant that smoke infuses all their food. At the beginning, they eat smoke infused butter and finish off with smoke infused cream. Smoke changes the molecular structure of foods. If you are familiar with restaurants like El Bulli which make basil foam and salad Jello(molecular gastronomy)barbeque wouldn't compare.

After reading how it chemically changes the meat though, it very well could fall into that cuisine.
To jump ahead, Water is about the essence of boiling and braising.

It focuses a lot on onions and how they are the most important part of every stew.
Air is about baking, this is where the author talks a lot about how wonder bread isn’t REAL bread. He meets with more experts on food. He talks with a baker about the perfect bread.

Earth is about fermenting. I learned a lot from this. Apparently people use all sorts of sauerkrauts and kimchis as home remedies, but Kombucha (my favorite drink)
 has supposedly been used to cure diabetes. Archaeologists found a breadfruit pile fermenting for 200+ years and it was still edible. I wouldn’t want to eat it. Towards the end he gets into the most commonly ingested kind of fermented item: alcohol. He discusses why humans and other animals like flies and bats drink it, even though it seems like an evolutionary disadvantage to be intoxicated.

Apparently in wild animal culture it helps with finding a mate and producing offspring (survival of the fittest). Who knew? Along with that it helps with survival because it is produced naturally in bruised fruits and if animals are willing to eat the yucky fruits they won’t die of starvation. That means humans don’t need it because we have mass produced food and drink! Thank you evolution!



  1. Why do you always talk about food? Even your name has food in it.

  2. I really like this topic. I'm kind of into baking, and it was interesting to read something about it. I really liked how you said something that you like, and put part of yourself out there. It made it more interesting, I really enjoyed it. Thank You.

  3. I actually just got the book, and I can't wait to read it. Thanks for the post, it helped me know what it was about.

  4. How does smoke change food?