The Omnivore’s Dilemma took the reader on four personal journeys through which the author would cleverly and beautifully spin out the unnerving truth about food production in America. Through a comparable construct, Cooked reveals the historical, cultural and scientific wonders of four cooking technologies (neatly tied to the four elements) that have accompanied the evolution of humanity: grilling (fire), cooking in pots (water), rising bread (air) and fermentation (earth).
In each case, Michael Pollan meets and learns from an expert in the field. Throughout it all, he weaves in stories shared from his kitchen-centered family life. As it turns out, cooking is not just good for the health of our bodies and of the land, it also works wonders for the relationships in our lives.
Cooked does make a most interesting point, virtues of the family dinner aside. ”Cooking is in our DNA, we can’t let go of it,” emphasized Michael Pollan the other night in reference to our collective obsession with cooking shows.
It may be important to stress at this juncture that there’s nothing remotely elitist about cooking—ask my mother and grandmother who had to go through the motion day in day out, including on those days when cooking occurred to them mostly as a boring chore. Also, it’s time we get over our feelings of inadequacy in the kitchen, and give it our best shot. Noble as it is, cooking is not rocket science, it’s been practiced for millennia, it can even be the best strategy available to eat on a budget (websites and articles on how to cook a family meal on less than 5 dollars a day abound).
The only question that remains for each of us to answer is this: how high do we put cooking on our priority list? Consequently, what plan can we put in place to make it happen, one little step at a time? And how can we support each other in reclaiming our kitchens?