Michael Pollan explores the elements earth, air, fire, and water as methods to change food into delicious things to consume. He learns specific techniques from masters in each area he learns to grill, bake, ferment, and cook. It is about learning to cook and appreciating what goes into transforming ingredients into something wonderful, and how cooking connects us all.
This is a more informal book by Pollan than some of his other works. It was a combination of personal experiences and facts about the cooking methods he was learning about to write this book. It was a book about appreciating food and the process of cooking. Pollan acknowledges that all the methods talked about in this book are not practical for everyday use, but it is the process and understanding the different techniques that leads to the appreciation of what making our food can do for us.
I think my favorite section was the last section: Earth. Pollan discusses fermentation and the importance of good bacteria to our health. I liked the combination of skills and facts. The information was conveyed in a personal, yet very engaging way. It was a great reminder to appreciate the food we eat, and to try to find ways to enjoy the chore of cooking everyday. I liked the idea that cooking can be a time to relax and focus. I enjoy cooking, and for me, this was a great way to think about different options out there for making food, the importance of cooking, and to try to learn new things about cooking. I liked reading how Pollan applies some of the things he talked about in his other books to his own kitchen.
If you are interested in cooking or learning about the food you eat, I recommend reading this book.