In his new book, “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation,” Michael Pollan takes on two of my favorite subjects: barbecue and beer.
Sort of surprising, maybe? Since Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” was published in 2006, the author seems to have been cast in the difficult roles of food activist and superego of conscious consumption.
In “Cooked,” though, he’s clearly having some fun eating and drinking, while still asking all the right questions.
The fundamental question of “Cooked” is “why cook?” The answer takes more than 400 pages and covers braising, baking, and pickle- and cheese-making, among other things.
Neatly (for me, anyway), the first part of the book is about fire and whole-hog barbecue, and the last part is about fermentation, including Pollan’s novice adventures in homebrewing.
Southern aficionados of smoked meat may shake their heads reading about Pollan’s wide-eyed wonder at his first taste of real pulled pork with shards of