In his new book, he tackles the subject of how to cook food in his new book appropriately named, Cooked. In it, he writes about the four central transformations into which all cooking can be divided; fire, water, air and earth.
The first three are simple: fire is heat, water is boiling, and air is aerating food. Earth is trickier; it is really fermentation. Fermentation by microbes changes food to be tastier and more nutritious. Despite being one of the ancient ways of cooking, we know little about it.
Pollan includes interesting characters in the book such as Sister Noëlla Marcellino, a “Ph.D. nun,” who makes Saint-Nectaire cheese from raw milk with a wooden bucket and spoon (not in a stainless steel commercial kitchen), and also Sandor Katz, who, according to the author, is a pacifist in modern civilization’s war on bacteria. Through their stories, I am even more interested in fermentation, fermenting food, and how it plays a role in the human body.
Cooked includes some recipes for each element of cooking: