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Pollan says that learning to be a better cook has changed his life in ways he didn't expect. He has bonded with Isaac over homemade beer (they have a carboy of home brew bubbling in the basement), he eats out less often (on nights when she's been away, Judith says, she sometimes comes home to find Pollan eating a three-course meal he's made just for himself), and, perhaps most surprisingly, he has come to view the aspects of food preparation that used to seem like a chore as calming, grounding, and sometimes even meditative. "Cooking is how we transform nature into culture," he says. "It's a really profound thing—a spiritual thing. For me, transcending this idea that it's drudgery is important."

Pollan laughs. "So when I realized it was possible for me to enjoy chopping onions, I knew I'd passed over into a different place."

Catherine Price is the author of 101 Places Not to See Before You Die (Harper Perennial).

Vibrant Recipes from Michael Pollan's Kitchen

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