Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cooking with Michael Pollan

This is the time of year when all the new books hit the shelves in time for the Christmas market and when you start to think about the relaxing days of summer ahead with reading or dozing in the shade of a tree during the hottest time of the day high on the list of the day's agenda. Earlier this year the thought proving American author Michael Pollan released a book called 'Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation' It is on my must read list having sampled the PDF introduction available online. The quote I always remember from Pollan  is "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.", and in this new book he deals with the philosophy behind four elements which have shaped culture through cooking and food, namely fire, water, air and earth. In fire he writes about cooking whole animals over an open fire. In water he deals with cooking in a vessel by boiling or braising. Air is about baking and earth is about fermenting, the process used for cheese making and brewing.
So my humble poached chicken from the other night has taken on a whole new meaning when it is described thus :"The pot dish, lidded and turbid has none of the Apollonian clarity of a recognizable animal on a spit but is a primordial Dionysian soup" as the "marriage of plant and animal foods in a liquid medium is preferable to cooking either food over direct fire" with the added "onions, garlic and herbs containing powerful antimicrobial components  which are able to survive the cooking process" and which are therefore very beneficial to health and well being. While I am on the right track here and enjoy cooking I am also an eater of the microwavable frozen convenience meal, the very thing Pollan rallies against in his books, because they have been made by a huge corporation and you have absolutely no idea what is in them and where those ingredients come from, for, in the long run "You are what you eat eats".

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