I got to listen to Michael Pollan’s Cooked recently and what a treat! He’s the same guy who brought up In Defense of Food and the Omnivore’s Dilemna. He’s slowly becoming one of my favourite authors.
He takes us through the four elements we use when we cook:
- Fire: This refers to grilling and the such. The biggest takeaway I got from this is that we cook too hot and not long enough, all in the name of convenience. Think of southern b-b-q, where it’s cooked over coals for hours or days. Doesn’t it make your mouth water?
- Water: Cooking with liquid is a staple for most families. Too bad it’s the Kraft Dinner kind way too many times. He talks about simmering and braising, and it sounds oh so good. I’ve been trying to hop on that bandwagon when I can with some good CrockPot meals!
- Air: This refers to baking, something we have done for almost eternity. He explains the process hasn’t changed much but the ingredients and methods have. He makes it sound fun (and healthy) to bake your own bread. Who knew?
- Earth: This is all about fermentation, everything from cheese to beer. He explains the cool chemistry process and how it hasn’t really changed over the past 10,000 years or so…
He mentions that most of our food-related ailments could be cured if we simply cooked more. More and more of these diseases are linked to food processing and the trade-off we do with convenience. The one thing I particularly enjoy about Pollan and this book is he gives us history but also the why we’ve done things the way we have. Pretty interesting stuff!
It makes us realize that most of us have no connection to our food and also have no clue what happens when you “cook” your food.
Anyway, a must-read for all foodies, especially if you’re part of the “slow food” movement. I find everytime I read/listen to a Michael Pollan book, it makes me think differently about food and I want to cook more. Not a bad thing in my books (pun intended)!
On a somewhat related note, the documentary “Fed Up” opens up this weekend. It’s getting rave reviews so far so it might be work some of your time on this long weekend…