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  • Writer's pictureTroy Kinney

Michael Pollan's COOKED: Water (on Netflix)

In the second episode of Netflix’s Cooked Series, "Water" by Michael Pollan, we are reminded that, “Nowadays cooking is optional. It’s not just a given that we are going to cook…which was true for most of human history… you had to cook if you wanted to eat. How did we get to this point, and what have we lost in the process? This is more important than most people realize.” Pollan really takes us into an understanding that time is the missing ingredient in our recipes and our lives. We just don’t have it or, at least, as much of it as we used to. Transforming ingredients into delicious tastes takes a little skill and much time. Time is the big issue when it comes to cooking. Short-cuts seem very attractive. Today there are so many cheap and easy ways to outsource the work.

This is interesting, taking the fact that there can be so much joy in cooking. This show has a lot of joy in it. They talk about the smells that fill a room even by simply throwing some cut onions into a hot pot. Pots that can withstand heat allow us to cook with water. Water softens food, and helps in the extracting and combining of flavors. Water takes the singular taste of an ingredient that alone might not be so savory and forces fusion and the fulfilment of flavor.

“The ability to use all the skills to bring the right ingredients together, the flavors together, so that the tapestry of tastes come together is critical.”

One expert that was especially interesting was Harry Balzer (food industry expert). He says that one of the longest ongoing discussions among people for thousands of years has been, “Who will do the cooking?” … Answer: “Not me.” Thus, eating and preparation of foods is not the same thing. At one point he gives this remarkable permission for everyone. He says something like this, “Eat anything you want. Enjoy all of your food. You want an apple pie? Have a whole apple pie tonight. You want cookies with that apple pie and ice cream… go right ahead. I’m just going to ask you to do one thing…make all of them yourself from scratch.”

In one opinion piece cited in the show Tim and Nena Zagat state, “The fact is that people would be better off staying an extra hour in the office doing what they do well and letting bargain restaurants do what they do best.” When one thinks only in dollars this is so much more financially economical, but are our finances that which is most important?

We also learned that economist David Cutler discovered that as the amount of time spent cooking went down, obesity went up. And the last point of interest I’ll mention here is that if we are going to rebuild a culture of cooking, not only do we need to learn our way around a kitchen and learn the joy and time it takes to make food well, but what we really need to do is to bring our kids into the kitchen with us.

Check out my book Watching Movies, Watching Stories on Amazon:


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