India Food Network
Oct 20, 2018
If one were to ever dissect the flavours of a dish, it would essentially boil down to four elements: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, or so Samin Nosrat, the inspiring cook, teacher and bestselling author of the Netflix docu-series Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, believes. The series is all about her travels around the world as she learns about foods from different cultures and shows you how to incorporate all four elements into each recipe.
Samin started working in kitchens almost 20 years ago, but that wasn’t always part of the plan. According to her website, Samin’s first brush with cooking happened when she went to UC Berkeley to study English and fulfill her dream of becoming a writer, she happened to visit Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse, dropped her resume and ended up working there for four years. She then went on to become an apprentice with Benedetta Vitali in Florence, Italy. Nosrat writes fondly of this diversion on her website, how it “happily determined the course of my life and career.”
The show is based on Nosrat’s book titled Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking. And as the name suggests, the series follows Nosrat travelling to different parts of the world to explore each element; Italy for ‘Fat’, Japan for ‘Salt’, Mexico for ‘Acid’, and finally her back to her home territory, Berkeley, California for ‘Heat’.
I think it is really notable how the producers tell the story without any gimmicks, it is honest, these are real people, showing me real food that they have made, from Italy’s olio d’oliva fresco (fresh olive oil) to Japan’s three-year aged brick-red miso paste. There is the predictable slo-mo shot of cheese being grated and Samin’s eye’s popping in awe, but it is welcome because along with the visual food porn extravaganza, Nosrat gives me her original spin on every dish she makes. The recipe is not the central plot here, it’s Samin’s desire to ensure you cook well in your own home. And that is a welcome change to all the glamourized food series we are bombarded with lately. If you are expecting to get step-by-step recipes, you may be a little disappointing, but if you want to learn about food and experience its humble origins, you’ll be in for a treat.
Like Samin said to TheTakeout.com, “The biggest takeaway — what I would really like to happen for anyone who watches the show — is to feel like they can cook something, or anything. I would like you to get off your butt and go cook something, whether it’s chicken or making vinaigrette for the first time, or you know, making a pot of beans. Because maybe you’re a pretty good home cook, but you always use canned beans.”