When I think of food, the first image that comes to mind is always something hot. I could see the steam, feel the heat, and even smell the smoke. And that is exactly how food writer Michael Pollan introduces his audience to the four-part docu-series — Cooked.
Aside from obvious reasons why you should watch the series on Netflix (Oscar-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney AND Award-winning food writer Michael Pollan in one show), this show pairs well with dinner-time TV and will evoke post-dinner discussions. Every episode focuses on a different and natural element used in cooking, and discusses its relationship to historical and modern cooking methods.
The first episode, “Fire,” opens with a stunning view and captivating music of Australia. It sets the tone to Cooked – provide consumers with a window to an unfamiliar culture and make us rethink our eating habits. Just like mixing ingredients to create a complex dish, Cooked weaves three interconnected stories together. “Fire” plays to the primal instincts in our nature: the deeply-rooted desire for story-telling and the love for mouth-watering food.
In this episode, we see that cooking is a way to reconnect with tradition. This notion particularly resonated with me because when I yearn to be with family that’s twelve thousand kilometers away, I often try to imitate the dishes my grandmother and mother used to make for me when I was a child.
“We all have strong memories of being cooked for by our moms, by our dads, by our grandparents.” – Michael Pollan
And this is the message Cooked tried to convey; how to get in touch with a tradition that is slowly being outsourced to corporations and losing its presence in our daily lives.
When I first started cooking, I absolutely hated touching raw meat. I don’t have haemophobia, but the sight of blood reminded me that the slab of meat on my kitchen counter was a piece of carcass. It was more than a sickening feeling- I felt a stab at my conscience as an omnivore. These were feelings that hid nicely behind a plate of food from restaurants. As I got used to cooking with raw meat, touching and seeing the meat meant being a part of the dish; I no longer took any meal for granted.
After watching “Fire,” I understood Pollan’s point of view. When we dine at restaurants, especially at fast food chains, we lose sight of the animal behind each dish. We see an appetizing rack of ribs, but we’re not really recognizing the animal in our food. On the other hand, when we cook, we touch raw meat, we handle the flesh, and we’re still in touch with the animal. When we put a lot of effort into preparing our food, it’s more likely for us to treat every plate with more respect and appreciation.
Ever since I started working full-time and have the means to choose what kind of products to buy, I’ve been trying to buy meat from local farmers. It’s sad that we live in a world where only the privileged can afford good quality food from sustainable environments. Due to the fact that meat is utterly delicious to me, I’d much rather support farms that help their animals live a good life with just “one bad day.”
Cooked got me hooked after one episode. I love how food, like music and art, is universal in its nature and brings people together. Everyone, no matter where they’re from, what their skin colour is, enjoys a good hearty meal.
Until next time!