03 January, 2014

Cooked: a review

I do not read non fiction easily or comfortably. It takes time with no plot to draw me on. Michael Pollan's writing though proves the exception and so The Omnivore's Dilemma was an excellent read and Cooked even more so.

Divided into four sections - fire, water, air and earth - it traces Pollan's exploration of each "element" of cooking and human development of and by that same cooking technique or style. I found the sections on air/bread and earth/fermentation particularly enthralling. I am currently tempted by a home grain mill (bonkers I know!) and was ecstatic to get The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz for Christmas (sauerkraut here we come!). I am a complete novice in all things microbiological so am filled with wonder at the microcosmos that lives within and around us. Fortunately I am utterly crap at housework and have never been one for antibacterial washes so I wasn't dismayed but rather reinforced by learning just how many good bugs are around to help us stay healthy.

I came away from the book with a renewed sense that cooking is a fundamental life skill, one which gives us a daily opportunity to maintain, develop and improve our creativity, health, and social relationships. And I continue to be amazed by human creativity in the field of food - not the Heston Blumenthal style of creativity though that is pretty amazing too - but rather how on earth did humans develop a multitude of wonderful cheeses, breads, beers, wines etc. way before they actually understood what was really going on inside those foods. And how have those foods evolved with us, and helped us evolve. It's a fascinating but also easy and entertaining read.

Now I must just go and feed my Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis...

1 comment:

just Gai said...

Coincidentally my Canadian cousin has just reviewed the same book. Like you, I'm not a great non fiction reader, but this might tempt me.