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Michael Pollan Talks About Braises and Barbeque

Jessica Kittams/OPB

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.” Other people 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.


  • Michael Pollan: Author of numerous books about food, including The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Rules, and Cooked

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