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The Boston Globe


Book Review

‘Cooked’ by Michael Pollan

My wife believes I have a problem. Where I would say I collect cookbooks, she would counter that I hoard them. “You’ve cooked from a fraction of them!” she throws in. But I come right back about how cookbooks do the work of a fistful of pharmaceuticals: aiding with disturbed sleep, anxiety, attention deficit, flagging inspiration. Not to mention the beneficial side effects in the form of countless home-cooked meals.

Before reading Michael Pollan’s latest foray into food — “Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation” — I never would have thought a book with recipes could also brilliantly and coterminously fire one’s sense of moral comprehension and political imagination. Toss in a shot of spiritual zeal, and you have that rare, ranging breed of narrative that manages to do all of this, and then some.

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