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Michael Pollan on cookery

(article, Culinate staff)

There's been plenty of reaction — positive, negative, and nuanced — to Michael Pollan's latest piece in the New York Times Magazine.

The lengthy article, entitled "Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch," touches on many topics, including Julia Child's influence, the Food Network, food marketing, and the state of cooking in America. 

(We especially appreciated the last section, "The Cooking Animal," which argues that cooking helps define us as human — although we recognize the problem with this: defining "cooking.")

Here's a sample of reactions to Pollan's piece across the Web:

Eric Gower, aka The Breakaway Cook, appreciates Pollan's POV: "For anyone perplexed at the massive rise of viewers of the Food Network, and how it can be that jillions of people are more interested in watching cooking than actually doing it, and how this rise has paradoxically coincided with the rise of fast food and the 'home-meal replacements' sold at supermarkets, it’s a must read."

Another fan, Sam Fromartz, advocates for '"good, such as Claudia Roden's Onions with Vinegar (recipe included): "Food has become largely about entertainment, rather than engagement. You watch, rather than participate. This doesn't apply to everyone, but it is the story for many. More and more people are buying prepared foods, eating sandwiches, not cooking."

Over at the The Jew and the Carrot, Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus views the piece from the perspective of a male, Jewish cook: "For me, a Jewish male, cooking has always been a means of autonomy and creativity."

Author Michael Ruhlman points to the ever-growing number of  food blogs as evidence that people want to/like to/are compelled to cook: " We are not seeing the end of home cooking.  I believe we have just begun to cook, and not a moment too soon."

Blogger Barbara Fisher objects mightily to the "subtle sexist undercurrent of Pollan’s lament of the decline of American cookery," and wishes Pollan had looked beyond Harry Balzer, a food-marketing specialist, to learn how Americans think about food and cooking.

Blogger and chef Eddie Lakin raised many of the same objections. The title of his blog post — 'Me to Michael Pollan; "You're an Elitist Gas-Bag"' — says it all.

Blogger and author Kate Hopkins defends the Food Network (which Pollan bemoans): "I know a large group of people who entered the kitchen in order to learn to cook because of watching Alton Brown, Mario Batali, or heck, even Iron Chef. What the Food Network does well (aside from entertaining) is show people who have little to no food knowledge just what fun they're missing."

Gaming blogger Rob Zacny is a new convert to cooking, but he isn't always wild about it: '"I He overlooks just how much cooking sucks."

Finally, Leslie Hatfield of the Eat Well Guide offers some solutions to the dilemmas Pollan raises: She advocates for a community approach to potlucks, yard gleaning, and other food-related activities: "After all, good food is best enjoyed with company." 

And, like Ruhlman, Hatfield suggests we all continue finding inspiration in food blogs.