An intimate group of Pasadena chapter members gathered this month to nourish our bodies, minds, and spirits with a potluck dinner, a viewing of Episode I of Michael Pollan’s “Cooked,” and the community of our Weston A Price Foundation chapter.
Michael Pollan is a journalist and activist who is changing the way Americans think about food. In 2013, he published the book “Cooked“, which explores the uniquely human practice of pre-digesting food by cooking it. A documentary based in this book is now available on Netflix, and it is divided into four episodes, exploring cooking through the lenses of the four natural elements – fire, water, air and earth.
We watched the first episode, “Fire”. Pollan decided that “the best way to recover the reality of food – to return it to its proper place in our lives – is to master the physical processes by which it has traditionally been made”. So began his quest to learn to prepare real, simple food and drink. In this episode, Pollan travels south. Learning about cooking with fire from the great pit-masters, for whom the word “barbecue” means nothing but a whole hog cooked over wood smoke and served with cornbread made from the animal’s lard, he revels in “cooking’s primary colours – animal, wood, fire, time”. We also get to see how fire figures into the traditional cooking of the Australian Aboriginal Martu.
The documentary is highly enjoyable. If you’re looking for more from Mr. Pollan, he set forth his Eater’s Manifesto on eating real food with his 2008 book “In Defense of Food.” He boiled his advice down to “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” There is also a documentary based on this book, in which he proposes an alternative way of eating that is informed by the traditions and ecology of real, well-grown, unprocessed food.