In his latest book, Michael Pollan, known for advocating eating well and reasonably, praises the act of cooking itself. Cooked (Penguin, $17) is not the first paean to cooking and its societal value, but Pollan’s description of transforming ingredients into meals makes the whole process feel sacred. Further, he describes the void in our frantic schedules when food becomes a chore to be outsourced to restaurants and frozen dinners. To solve this problem, Pollan argues, we should become familiar with the four ways of cooking food. Keyed to the elements, these are grilling (fire), boiling (water), baking (air) and fermentation (earth). Devoting a section to each mode, Pollan guides readers through its history and culture, with special attention to its culinary masters. Not a book of recipes (there is one recipe per element) Cooked is inspiration to get back into the kitchen. The satisfaction of turning the Earth’s bounty into something to be enjoyed and shared with loved ones is a uniquely human gift. What could be better?
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