The inert, sticky paste begins to cohere…

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today about a simile from food writer Michael Pollan.

My family of origin is famous for its obsession with food. Many guests have told us we’re the only people they know who invariably end a (fabulous) meal by talking about what we’re going to make for the next one.

I also read cookbooks as if they were thrillers (they are!) and I’ve even edited three of them. Puzzlingly, however, I’d never managed to read any of Michael Pollan’s books. My friend Bob suggested one — Cooked — and I immediately put it on hold at the library.

It’s a popular book. I had to wait at least three months for it. But it was well worth the patience required. I particularly enjoyed Pollan’s section on baking bread. My own mother made bread once a week and the book brought back many fine memories.

Here is an image — a simile — I particularly liked:

I’ve come to love the feel of the dough in my hands as it develops, the way, on the third or fourth turn, the inert, sticky paste begins to cohere and then gradually become elastic, as if sinews and muscles were forming inside it. 

I’ve kneaded dough myself and he nails it. Bread dough really does feel alive, like an animal.

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