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Cooked looks at one of the most human of activities: cooking food. In the first episode, "Fire" (the only one I've seen so far), Pollan examines humankind's close link with fire, not only as our most basic form of food prep but also our instinctual draw to sit around the fire and trade stories.
Besides talking to experts, such as an anthropologist and food scientist, Pollan talks with everyday people who are involved intimately with their food. We go to western Australia, where we see how one family engages in very traditional hunting and cooking. Then we go to the American South and learn about southern barbecue and watch a pit master at work. We also get a glimpse of backyard urban ingenuity for slow roasting meat in a makeshift oven. Along the way we also meet some pigs and their people.
Cooked, at least the episode I watched, is not meant to knock you over the head with politics or shocking stats. Instead, the film helps us connect to our food and the longstanding cultural traditions that make us who we are. The film gave me a few things to think about and made me incredibly glad I live in area with a half dozen farmers markets and many local food producers. Plus I enjoyed meeting the people Pollan talked to.
Tonight I'll be binge watching the other three episodes, titled (no surprise) "Water," "Air," and "Earth." The other films focus on different parts of the world and different parts of our diet. While "Fire" was meat-centric, the other episodes have segments on bread, cheese, chocolate, and vegetables.
Take a look at the trailer to get a feel for what you'll see.