When it was time for the audience at Portland’s Newmark Theater to ask Michael Pollan a question, the first out of the gate was: What are the five things that are always in your fridge? His answer: “Eggs. Milk. Yogurt. Mustard. Ketchup.” Others wanted to know what he thought of Mark Bittman’s idea of being vegan before six p.m. And what Pollan thought of edamame.
It was a spirited evening that centered around Pollan’s Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. In it he talks about barbecuing and braising, baking and fermenting. It’s basically his journey of learning how to cook, divided into themes: fire, water, air and earth. But like all Pollan books, the content becomes much bigger. It’s about community, spirituality and family.
Pollan describes why he thinks it is important to cook:
In a world where so few of us are obliged to cook at all anymore, to choose to do so is to lodge a protest against specialization — against the total rationalization of life. Against the infiltration of commercial interests into every last cranny of our lives. To cook for the pleasure of it, to devote a portion of our leisure to it, is to declare our independence from the corporations seeking to organize our every waking moment into yet another occasion for consumption.
We originally aired this conversation shortly after it took place in May, but it’s one of our favorites, so we’re rebroadcasting it on this Labor Day.
- Michael Pollan: Author of numerous books about food, including The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Rules, and Cooked