A Case for the Casserole


A good pot holds memories.

In the same way that the stew pot blends a great many different ingredients together, forging them into a single memorable flavor, it brings the family together as well.

The hot, fragrant casserole itself exerted a gravitational force, gathering us around it like a miniature hearth.

Cooking in a pot is all about economy.

If we are going to eat animals, it behooves us to waste as few and as little of them as we possibly can, something that the humble cook pot allows us to do.

“The transformation which occurs in the cauldron is quintessential and wondrous, subtle and delicate. The mouth cannot express it in words.”
— I Yin, a Chinese chef, 239 B.C.

“Boiled food is life,” Levi-Strauss writes, “roast food death.” He reports finding countless examples in the world’s folklore of “cauldrons of immortality,” but not a single example of a “spit of immortality.”

“To eat out of the same cauldron” was, for the ancient Greeks, a trope for sharing the same fate: We’re all in this together.

The ancient Chinese conceived of the well-governed state as a cauldron…

…the “melting pot” sought to achieve a similar result in the social sphere, resolving the diverse flavors of our far-flung immigrant histories into a single American stew.

Excerpts from Cooked, by Michael Pollan


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