Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan

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After studying how we get our food (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), Pollan turns to the “middle chain” of how we cook our food. And while elaborate cooking shows are increasingly popular, Pollan notes how “cooking” is often nothing more than warming up food in the microwave. Part culinary travelogue, part anthropological study, in this book he sets off to learn how to grill, cook with water, bake, and “ferment all sorts of things” from the best in the business.

His writing can be slow going at times as he offers a lot to, well, chew on. But the diligent reader will discover fascinating information on the science of cooking and also learn about various cooking traditions, such as Southern barbecue and San Francisco sourdough bread.

Pollan’s primary focus, however, is on the ties he makes with numerous chefs. “Cooking is all about connection,” he concludes, between the people who cook and share a meal. (Penguin)

About the Author

Otto Selles teaches French at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., and attends Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids.

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