Michael Pollan packed 'em in at Town Hall last night. Pollan, whose new book, In Defense of Food , was the top selling nonfiction title


Michael Pollan Wants You to Cook


Michael Pollan packed 'em in at Town Hall last night. Pollan, whose new book, In Defense of Food, was the top selling nonfiction title for January, according to The New York Times, appeared in conversation with KUOW's Steve Scher. Scher began the talk by apologizing for his cold. Pollan replied, "Eat food. You'll be alright." (They reprised a lot of their conversation this morning on the radio, here.)

To anyone who's read Pollan's book, this statement might sound like an enormous soft-pedaling of the manifesto Pollan was in town to explicate, a seven word near-haiku: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

And yet by the time the questions rolled around, it was clear that this simple-sounding tag line was really a call for a change of lifestyle. Really, it's about cooking. It's about the taking the time to shop for whole foods, and to cook them up yourself. To make meals at home. To Seattleites in love with their farmers markets, this may not sound like a radical cultural shift, but for those who eat many of their meals out of a box (or out, period, depending of course on the politics of your restaurant), this is a grand suggestion.

In response to a question about the Food network, Pollan replied, "We have turned cooking into a spectator sport. It's not something part of everyday life, but we watch it for entertainment. What pornography does to sex, cooking shows do to cooking. Just think about that. Later, maybe."

Earlier, Pollan had been arguing (to paraphrase): The food industry has convinced us that we cannot cook, that we don't have time to cook, and that cooking is really hard.

One woman sounded desperate, asking Pollan what to do with those strange vegetables at the farmers market. And he laughed, saying, "You can teach yourself to cook. It's really not that hard. Get some garlic and olive oil. You can cook anything."

Pollan advocates for creating a food culture in a country that has never had one. One of the latter questioners brought up Slow Food. "The Slow Food movement is an Italian idea," Pollan responded. "It's hedonistic." Pollan is joking, sort of. Spending many hours to craft a meal, and to savor it with your friends and family is simply not an efficient use of time. It is about pleasure, and about community. About creating a culture around food. "Slow Food really has much bigger game," Pollan announced "It's not just about food, it's about the Western fast life."

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