people.michael-pollan (Private) rediscovers home cooking and talks about the four elements (fire, water, air, and earth).


Inspired me to do more cooking. The classification into four elements sometimes feels forced but provided a different vantage in which to think about food. Great tour of the different sides of cooking and insight of how food and the ways of cooking it has changed the course of humanity.

Key Points

  • fire - bbq, what separates us from animals, like external digestions, opens up what we can eat
  • water - soups, like external digestion, brings out more nutrients and help make communal food
  • air - pastries,
  • earth - beer, fermentation, dissolves and re-makes
    • we are mostly microbes, we shouldn't try to get rid of all of them


  • story of accidentally discovering cooked meat after pig is burned in hut in china, led to repeated burning of huts to cook meat






  • modern culture, everything is abstracted from us, food is something we can order from amazon vs grow from the ground
  • cooking takes us back from abstraction
  • cooking divided into four elements


  • man put out with pee, start with fire

  • places.skylight-inn-bbq (Private)

    • skylight inn is not cleaned ever and not up to code, grandfathtered
  • history of bbq

    • people burn down houses accidentally in china to make roast pig
      • soon, everyone is burning down their houses
  • man is different from animals becaus she can cook

  • animals spend half their time chewing food, cooking removes the need

  • maximize energy consumption, animals will go for cooked meat over raw meat

  • sacrifice animal, smoke go to gods, meat for man


  • caldron is like external digestion
  • onion, ginger and garlic help make food clean
  • less communal if everyone eat something different



  • death and bacteria
  • we are 9/10 microbes
  • microbes can evolve faster and respond better
  • parking lot science
  • mother milk has compound that is good for certain bacteria but can’t be processed by baby
  • fermentation dissolves reality and makes something new, like alaholic