I’ve been a bit busy with book reviews, as you may have noticed. A friend of mine has inspired the quest for the perfect baking book for the beginner. After several in a row, I was hitting the wall. Then that same friend recommended I read Cooked. It served as a chaser of shorts, cleansing the palate of the repetitive baking descriptions and recipes.
A few months ago, I watched the Cooked documentary on netflix, which left me a little disappointed. Michael Pollan, one of my favorite authors, appeared to be very awkward in the kitchen. We wondered, does this food writer not know how to cook?
According to Pollan’s latest book, that does seem to be the case.
I appreciated his recognition here, which he didn’t make in the documentary, that the slow food movement and the wide availability of home-cooked food assumes the privilege of time and money, and individuals to do said cooking, which often falls to women.
The original question that let me to read Cooked was about Pollan’s admiration of Wendell Berry. I haven’t read any of his writings, but maybe that’s the next step.
Even though I was less than impressed with the baking episode of the Cooked documentary (do you even knead, bruh?), his chapter titled “Air” is very good. Comprehensive but accessible. I adore Pollan’s writing, finding connections between the physical processes going on in the foods we manipulate and what they mean to us as a culture.
I used to go on thefreshloaf.com a lot. I still recommend it as a resource to home bakers.
This is not the first book I’ve read where the protagonist visits a monastery to learn some spiritual mysteries and be introspective. But I really liked Pollan’s treatment here. The idea of including cheese in the eucharist is subversive, unexpectedly meaningful, and awesome.
I will be making this recipe in a few weeks. Right now I have a backlog of bread that I need to eat.
Overall, I really enjoyed Cooked, and it’s a worthy successor to Omnivore’s Dilemma and Botany of Desire.
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