Omnivore’s Dilemma was wonderful; while there were irritating bits, these were not so noticeable, in the wealth of wonderful information and perspective. Unfortunately, there’s much less wealth of information in Cooked, so the irritating bits are much more visible.
Yes, if you have hundreds of hours to focus on baking bread and take lessons from award-winning bakers you can make a great loaf, and I’m sure his are delicious, but not like the humble loaves I bake; and no, I don’t chop my onions finely for my stews, yet we eat them with enjoyment. It’s possible to cook from scratch ingredients (many home grown), and have it not take a long time; and while it may not be haute cuisine, it will taste pretty good. Pollan notes that as a culture we are interested in watching cooking even when we don’t do it; this book seems to fit right in, we are reading about him doing things that sound quite inaccessible (and I’ve done some of these things myself, so it’s not like lack confidence).
This book seems to make the divide in our food culture even larger, rather than bridging the gap; the line between those that take their time to cook wonderful meals with organic ingredients from the farmer’s market, and those that don’t have the time or finances and so don’t cook, and just eat fast food. There’s a whole lot of different interesting things that lie in between the San Francisco artisan sourdough loaf and Wonder bread. We’ve been making almost all our bread for years; it’s not exciting and artisanal and it takes very little time, we don’t gush over it and write about it or anything.
Having said all this, Pollan still is a great writer, I did learn somethings… I am more diligent about the wholewheat flour, and mix it with water and let it rest for a few hours before proceeding with breadmaking.
Perhaps I’m too jaded, the first time you read about fermentation may be that much more exciting than the umpteenth time (but I do recommend you go directly to “Wild Fermentation” if you want to be inspired to ferment)