Friday, 14 August 2009

Required Reading: In Defence of Food

The holiday to Umbria wasn’t entirely about stopping and smelling the rosemary. I did some work too. Sort of.

In between dips in the pool, singeing my hair in a pizza oven and trips to hilltop towns, I read In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan.

It’s a book about food. Really, really about food. Proper food. More an extended essay than a fully-fledged tome, it is the most intelligent, impassioned treatise on the subject I’ve ever read.

With so much extraneous information bombarding us everyday, seeing the topic of food stripped down to its bare essentials is both refreshing and important. Crucial even.

Pollan writes about food with a sense of unhurried urgency and seemingly effortless intelligence. He is a man who, if you’ll excuse the pun, knows his onions. And shallots. And garlic and all other members of the allium genus. He knows what is wrong with the food industry and, more importantly, he knows how to fix it.

One of the criticisms levelled at many polemicists is that they are happy to point out problems and often less able to talk of solutions. Michael Moore, take note. Pollan does both with equal skill.

In Defence of Food is the sort of book that comes along so rarely it makes you want to buy copies for everyone you know, thrust it into their grease-flecked fingers and sit watching to make sure they consume it. And consume it they will.

It is, without a shadow of a doubt and no degree of hyperbole, the best book about food I have ever read. Ever. Now, go and get a copy, sit ye down and read it.

And follow me on Twitter. But only if you really want to.


Alicia Foodycat said...

It's a fantastic book, isn't it? I have some of his others on my wishlist, waiting for my birthday!

The Cat's Mother said...

I'm a fan of Michael Pollan. He makes so much sense. People are so confused about "nutrition" its criminal.

I enjoyed Omnivore's Dilemma as well. My husband did buy copies of In Defence of Food to issue to his daughters.

Laura said...

I am reading the Omnivore Dilemma, and In Defense of Food is next. I heard Michael Pollan talk, he is amazingly intelligent and very eloquent. He is onto something, an integral part of the whole food revolution that is happening in many communities here in the States. It is funny though, we Italians have been eating that way for centuries, so it seems almost surreal that people have to write books about something we are born into.

Helen Yuet Ling Pang said...

Thanks for the recommendation! I've heard so much about this book that I'll have to add it to my book wishlist. I have so many unread books!

The Good Shill said...

I'm so glad I've found your fantastic blog. I work in food & wine and live in New York with my Scottish husband (who is also budding pizzaiolo), so lots of your recipes and posts seem to mirror the things we love to eat.

This weekend's adventures: finding Scotch pies in New Jersey and trying out your seemingly simple bagel recipe. Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

i could not agreed more. best. book. ever. although it has made me rather loose my appetite which in turn makes me feel quite angry. If you liked this you must go and watch Food Inc.