26 February 2016

COOKED, a netflix docu-series.

At the beginning of this week I got a chance to watch COOKED, a new Netflix docu-series based on the book Cooked by Michael Pollan.  Going into this I was thinking two things.

The first was, how terrible is this going to make me feel?  I have attempted and failed to read all of Pollan's books, as the number one barrier for me has been fear.  The fear that I will finish the book feeling completely awful about all of my eating and cooking and shopping decisions.  The fact is, I buy groceries mostly from a supermarket (gasp!) and I also by from the middle aisles of the store (double gasp!!).  A second fact is, I have access to some locally and sustainably sourced food products, which indeed is a rare luxury.  But the third fact is, we have a budget and can't afford to eat the best every single day of our lives.  And while I've accepted that these facts exist for now and try not to think about how I'm funding corporate farming, it's hard not to feel guilty every once in a while, especially when reading a Pollan piece.  (For the record, I have read his mini-book, Food Rules, which is short and sweet and on my bookshelf.  It is an enjoyable and educational read and has never made me feel quite so bad.)

The second thought was, i bet the cinematography is going to be gorgeous.

Concerning those two thoughts:
(1) I did not feel like a horrible person afterwards.  I didn't feel talked down to or lectured, and I felt like completely doable changes were suggested to audiences (such as, have a home-cooked dinner just one more night a week, or save the money you'd use on one night eating out and instead use it to buy some really good ingredients to cook at home.)
(2) The cinematography was gorgeous.  This is something that I have appreciated and craved more and more with food television - I am finding that I live for the close-up, macro shots of the flour dust and the wine swooping into the glass and the pot of water coming up to a rolling boil.  Those sequences give me life, you guys.  Some people call it "food porn," (which is a phrase that I really hate but can't think of a better one) but I like to call it "what food television should be."  (If this is also your jam, check out the "color recipe" videos on Youtube which I have mentioned before and always revisit when I need a quick mood-boost.)  Last year's Netflix food-related docu-series, Chef's Table, also had beautiful cinematography, and I'm hoping they are slowly but surely setting a standard for food television.

I thought COOKED was great.  I was informative and educational, and you get to learn about how different communities around the world treat their food staples and diets.  By far my favorite chapter was AIR, which was all about bread.  It was fascinating to learn about bread in different contexts - like how in Morocco they don't cut their bread with a knife because it's considered too violent an act against something so precious, how processed loaves of bread are such a gross mutation of what the original thing is and it's no wonder people have gluten intolerances, and how using yeast to make your own bread is still a shortcut of food-processing that isn't necessarily ideal (but making your own bread is way still better!!).

When I finished AIR, I was so inspired and motivated and immediately wanted to make bread.  It has added a goal for the year that I wasn't expecting, but I'm very excited to work at it.  Bread making is intimidating and arduous and requires a knack for waiting that I think I've lost due to having Amazon Prime for way too long.  But I'm ready to try!  Hopefully I have a update on my bread-making progress soon.

Anyway, I highly recommend giving COOKED a go.  If for nothing else watch the opening credits, which are absolutely beautiful (that cinematography I was talking about) and, depending on your headspace at the time of watching, might make you emotional.  You can watch a trailer for the series here.


  1. I didn't know there was a Netflix series! I'll have to watch it, I need something good to watch. Cooked and In Defense of Food are two of my favorite books. So fascinating, so if you feel up to it, I think you'll actually love them. I think one of the best parts of Michael Pollan's writing is he isn't too preachy. I think at the end of In a Defense of Food he got a little political but really not bad at all. Also, did I mention FASCINATING!
    So Terry makes the Tartine bread Michael Pollan's mentions in Cooked- it is delicious. His starter is dead now but it's really pretty easy to get going. When I make bread I always use the Jim Lahey no-knead bread, which is a title simpler but still delicious.
    ALSO. I am obsessed with the podcast by the BBC called "The Food Program". If you're looking for a new one!
    It was fun to see you guys last month and I always love reading what you write about on here. We'll have to do something again soon! Hope the toilet problems got figured out 😁

    1. I've had The Omnivore's Dilemma on my shelf for years... I've made it a goal to read it sometime this year. Hopefully it doesn't scare me away and I'll read his others. And the Tartine bread is also on my to-bake list! If anything goes wrong I'll have some question for you to forward to Terry. :) I will definitely check out that podcast, I'm always on the lookout for some good food listening.

      We will definitely have to hang again soon! And thankfully, everything is back to normal and flushing, haha!