Hi, My name is Blair Baker and I'm addicted to food documentaries. I have never found a food documentary I didn't love and I frequently find myself with one tab open to Netflix and another looking at recipes or buying bread online. It came as no surprise that I loved Cooked on Netflix. Based on the book, Cooked by Michael Pollan, the history and culture of food are discovered through the four elements of fire, water, air, and earth. I would highly recommend watching this series– it appeals to those who love food, excellent filmography and learning a little more about mankind. 

Episode 1: Fire

pumpkin, cake
Bonnie Wang

The first episode explores the cultural significance of fire and how it separates man from other animals. The episode outlines that we are the only mammals that cook– you can even see the evolutionary changes in our body as humans learned how to cook food and therefore soften it. From this point, the cultural significance of fire is viewed through the lens of Aboriginals in Australia. They use fire to aid in hunting and as a cultural figure– they even baptize their babies with fire. Finally, the episode heads to the south to explore some good ol' southern BBQ and how this ties us to the ritual cooking of meat. 

Hit me with the highlights: some good southern BBQ, James Taylor and a pig name Kosher.

Episode 2: Water

water cup, glass, ice, iced water, beer, water
Jocelyn Hsu

In this episode, Michael Pollan discovers cooking in pots and the use of water to develop flavors. This episode takes us to India, one of the last places where home cooked meals have remained the main source of nourishment. This episode explains the transition from exclusively home-cooked meals to a culture that outsources most of our meals and in turn, created a culture of obesity. 

Hit me with the highlights: A good looking stew, behind the scenes in a test kitchen, and vintage, sexist advertisements for fast food. 

Episode 3: Air

bread, chicken
Alex Frank

There is nothing quite like a good slice of bread and in this episode, Pollan delves into the history and future of bread. For thousands and thousands of years, bread has been a staple of human's diets, but recently it has been causing a lot of problems. Gluten intolerance is on the rise. The problem is that wheat is being processed differently and bread is being made in a new way that doesn't allow the wheat to be properly broken down. 

Hit me with the highlights: Some good looking bread, learning what exactly gluten is, gene banks for wheat.

Episode 4: Earth

cocoa, chocolate chips, chips, chocolate, candy, sweet
Caroline Ingalls

In a food series, an episode about 'earth' kinda seems like an easy target; all food originates in the earth. Rather than pointing out the obvious, this episode explored the process of fermentation. Fun fact: 1/3 foods in our diet are fermented, but we are just frequently unaware of this process. From alcoholic beverages to chocolate and cheeses, Pollan shows us that germs and rotting actually are important to creating delicious foods. As a culture, we villainize germs and ignore the numerous benefits.

Hit me with the highlights: Booze, chocolate, and cheese. Need I say more? 

From start to finish of this series I was educated, intrigued and felt super hungry. "Cooked" on Netflix goes beyond how to prepare a meal and looked into cultural changes and significances of food. From now on, I know that I will think a little bit more about whatever I'm eating.