|Australian tribes people at their fire in the Outback, from part one "Fire" of Michael Pollan's Netflix special, COOKED.|
The series, in my opinion, converts a fairly intellectual book (also titled Cooked) into a delightful sensory experience -- except that unfortunately you can't smell or taste the products! Though Pollan covers a good deal of research by food scientists, anthropologists, and historians, the series is impressive mainly for the range of visuals. Here are some examples from the four parts of the series:
|Pitmaster working on Barbecue from "Fire."|
|Kitchen in India, from "Water."|
|A pot boiling, from "Water."|
|Bakers' shop where families bring their own bread to be baked, from|
"Air." This episode also has memorable imagery of a traditional miller,
where water-driven grindstones grind the grain for bread.
|A nun who is a biochemist and cheesemaker, from "Earth."|
|A little-known processing fact: cacao beans must be fermented to produce the taste of chocolate -- from "Earth."|
|Pollan narrates the entire series, as well as demonstrating the cooking and|
baking skills he learned while researching the book.
In the Atlantic this week is an article that goes perfectly with "Cooked" -- More Than Half of What Americans Eat Is 'Ultra-Processed'. The article begins by quoting Pollan's most famous line: “eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” which they ideintify as "oft-quoted, less oft-followed." They conclude: "ultra-processed sugar bombs are replacing 'more nutrient-dense foods,' and leaving people “simultaneously overfed and undernourished." Best of all, they have a clear and useful definition of ultra-processed:
"Formulations of several ingredients which, besides salt, sugar, oils, and fats, include food substances not used in culinary preparations, in particular, flavors, colors, sweeteners, emulsifiers and other additives used to imitate sensorial qualities of unprocessed or minimally processed foods and their culinary preparations or to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product."Pollan's quest for traditionally processed foods -- bread, cheese, fire-cooked meats, braised meat and vegetables and much more -- offers an alternative to industrial, ultra-processed foods.