Cooked Review

Ella Padden, Contributor

Cooked is a four part series on Netflix, that showcases how the four elements, air, fire, water, earth, shape and affect our food and diets. Cooked is based off of the book Cooked written by Michael Pollan. Pollan is also the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In defense of Food, and Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, among other best sellers. In Cooked, Michael Pollan teams up with Netflix to take you around the world, showing you how food affects different communities as well as the history of cooking.The show discusses the effects of food and its preparation, as well as the changes that have come about in the modern world.

While Cooked laments the loss of cooking in the modern world, it explains why convenience is now the focus of meals. Cooking is messy, it involves preparing and cooking the food, as well as cleaning up after the meal. But many people can take pleasure and pride in cooking, something show often in Cooked. This trait is showcased specifically in the “Air” episode, as the bakers in India truly enjoy the bread they make and what they contribute to their community, and in the “Earth” episode, as Sister Noella Marcellino who makes cheese using a French peasant tradition, finds beauty in bacteria.

Cooked isn’t just a history documentary or a cry to an older age where cooking wasn’t as corporation dominated and where being a cook or a baker was a coveted profession. Cooked is a celebration of the rich history and evolution of the human species through cooking. “We are the species that cooks. No other species cooks. And when we learned to cook, is when we became truly human.” announces Pollan at the beginning of the “Fire” episode. Cooked is a masterpiece of substance, presented in color so vivid and filled with kitchens and food so stunning it’s as if you can smell the spices and the flavors sprawled across your screen.
Cooked shows that you don’t have to be a professional chef or a baker to cook. Cooking is not a job, it is an evolutionary gift. Nuns, farmers, bakers, and scientists don’t cook: people do. And while cooking looks different today than it has in the past, with corporations producing more of our food and convenience being the focus of meals today, cooking is still an essential part of our lives. “The meal is an incredible human institution,” Pollan exclaims, in a voice full of reverence, that makes the meal a wonderous thing. And that seems to be an important message in Cooked. The meal is paramount, and how the food is prepared and cooked, is an integral part of our history