Monday, April 29, 2013

Pollan's at It Again with Cooked

 Mr. M. Pollan is on the media circuit again selling his new contribution to the national food conversation. Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation is his booster book for a return to the kitchen.

I haven't read the book, so I can't offer a full review yet.  But I know that he starts, as he has done in similarly-focused articles, with a gasping review of the decline of American cooking. For instance, between 1975 and 2006, the average time American women spent in the kitchen went from 90 minutes to 60 minutes--oh my, deep inhalation. Is this possible?  Are women actually spending 30 fewer minutes cooking per day? !  Somebody hold up the sky, I fear it is a fallin'.  Actually, a 30 minute decline doesn't seem all that noteworthy or frightening. If he had found that cooking averages went from 90 minutes to say 15 or even 20 minutes, well that would be something to incite short, quick breaths. Thirty minutes over thirty or so years, that don't seem so bad to me. 

So guess what Pollan cooked in Cooked?   Something easy that can help the harried working family  eat well and cook from scratch in a jiffy?  Microwave meals that make children's muscles grown strong and brains get smarter?

Ha, ha, ha. Remember we're talking about Mr. Michael (I-live-in-Berkeley-and-hang-out-with-Chez-Panissers) Pollan.  That's right he learned to make a sourdough Boule with a baker from San Francisco's  Tartine.  He mastered pig-roasting with bar-b-que aficionado, Ed Smith. And he studied cheese cultures with raw-milk cheese artisan, Noella Marcellino. You got it. The solution to America's food crisis is boutique cheeses and spit-roasting whole animals.

I think I have a great idea for tomorrow night's dinner. Tonight, I will drain some yogurt to turn into homemade farmer's cheese.  And I will get that sourdough starter, the one I've kept active since my grad school days in the mid 1990s, and get a loaf on a slow rise to bake in the afternoon. In the morning, I will go out and forage for wild mushrooms and dandelion greens.

Wait a second. I have to go to work tomorrow. Skip that, I'll pick up a pizza on the way home.

Until I get a formal review together, enjoy this one by Tom Philpott in Mother Jones.