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Download Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, by Michael Pollan Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Michael Pollan Narrator: Michael Polla Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth—to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer. In the course of his journey, he discovers that the cook occupies a special place in the world, standing squarely between nature and culture. Both realms are transformed by cooking and so, in the process, is the cook.

Each section of Cooked tracks Pollan’s effort to master a single classic recipe using one of the four elements. A North Carolina barbecue pit master tutors him in the primal magic of fire; a Chez Panisse–trained cook schools him in the art of braising; a celebrated baker teaches him how air transforms grain and water into a fragrant loaf of bread; and finally, several mad-genius “fermentos” (a tribe that includes brewers, cheese makers, and all kinds of picklers) reveal how fungi and bacteria can perform the most amazing alchemies of all. The reader learns alongside Pollan, but the lessons move beyond the practical to become an investigation of how cooking involves us in a web of social and ecological relationships: with plants and animals, the soil, farmers, our history and culture, and, of course, the people our cooking nourishes and delights. Cooking, above all, connects us.

The effects of not cooking are similarly far reaching. Relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume huge quantities of fat, sugar, and salt; disrupt an essential link to the natural world; and weaken our relationships with family and friends. In fact, Cooked argues, taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable. Reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, opens the door to a more nourishing life.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “The book’s surplus of fascinating tidbits—about everything from barbecue (which Pollan connects to ritual animal sacrifice) to the mysterious workings of bread yeast—makes it a feast for intellectual omnivores.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Pollan takes what seems to be a subject close at hand (or even at mouth) and makes it fascinating in ways we never suspected.”

    Barnes & Noble, editorial review

  • “You can’t help but appreciate Pollan’s genius for conveying the elemental appeal of making a meal.”

    Amazon.com, editorial review

  • “A powerful argument for a return to home cooking of the sort that doesn’t begin with an attempt to find the perforated opening. Pollan is not the first person to issue this clarion call…But perhaps only Pollan can so effectively pick up the threads of so many food movements, philosophies, and research papers and knit them into a compelling narrative with a crystal-clear message…because of the power of his prose and his reasoning.”

    Washington Post

  • “Important, possibly life-altering, reading for every living, breathing human being.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Pollan narrates his book in a conversational style filled with conviction and eagerness that drive the listener to join his evolutionary quest. He enthusiastically explores the culinary power of harnessing fire, water, air, and earth…Society, he warns, needs nourishment to be found not in corporate food preparation but in what connects us—meal creation together. Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “[Cooked] makes for engaging and enlightening reading.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “A delightful chronicle of the education of a cook who steps back frequently to extol the scientific and philosophical basis of this deeply satisfying human activity.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Pollan’s latest is not to be missed.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Pollan’s newest treatise on how food reaches the world’s tables delves into the history of how humankind turns raw ingredients into palatable and nutritious food. To bring some sense of order to this vast subject, he resurrects classical categories of fire, water, air, and earth.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, April 2013
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • An AudioFile Editors’ Pick in May 2013
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A Wall Street Journal Bestseller
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
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