Ever since our species figured out how to use fire to cook food, we’ve been experimenting with the science and art of cooking. From the early days of burned deer and grilled lake fish to the festive gluttony of Roman banquets to the culinary excesses of week-long Versailles celebrations, we have tracked down and kitchened anything in nature that moves, flies or swims.
Then came America.
A raw paradise of plenty, its early settlers soon settled on the plain versus the pompous. Meat and potatoes became the standard meal de jour . Basic and boring until Julia Child swept into our households via post WWII television. The grand old lady taught us how to make our kitchens creative.
Now, a half century and several food-channel-chefs later, we have creative authors like Michael Pollan cajoling our fast-food-afficionadoes back into their kitchens. His newest magnus opus is ‘Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation.’ Will these saucy pages hook the hurried American….? Probably not. But it will give eaters like me a chance to imagine what it would be like to master some of his meals.
What peppers this book are not only the tempting recipes, but especially the flair with which he presents them and their histories. He enjoys describing them in terms of “their deep Proustian echoes” and “their drama of fermentation.” Who knew….?
Whether you buy the book or simply drool over its photography in the book store, ‘Cooked’ carries on Lady Julia’s passion for luring us back into our kitchens where we can start cooking from scratch again. The mission is noble…the health benefits enormous….most of all it’s a chances to break the national fixation with all things frozen, canned, and prepackaged by food producers whose priorities are profit first and actual food only when required by law.
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