100 Books That Defined the Decade
For good, for bad, for ugly.
Samin Nosrat, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (2017)
“Season food with the proper amount of salt at the proper moment; choose the optimal medium of fat to convey the flavor of your ingredients; balance and animate those ingredients with acid; apply the right type and quantity of heat for the proper amount of time—do all this and you will turn out vibrant and beautiful food, with or without a recipe.”
Essential stats: New York Times Bestseller; winner of the 2018 James Beard Award for Best General Cookbook and multiple IACP Cookbook Awards; named one of the best books of the year by: NPR, BuzzFeed, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Rachel Ray Every Day, San Francisco Chronicle, Vice Munchies, Elle.com, Glamour, Eater, Newsday, Minneapolis Star Tribune, The Seattle Times, Tampa Bay Times, Tasting Table, Modern Farmer, Publishers Weekly, etc. etc. etc. Oh, and perhaps you’ve heard of the Netflix show?
Or to put it another way: It’s The Joy of Cooking for the modern chef.
What makes this book different from all the other cookbooks? I’ll let the legendary Alice Waters explain, in her citation for Nosrat’s inclusion on TIME‘s 2019 most influential people list:
Years ago, Samin Nosrat taught me how to make fresh mozzarella bocconcini; I remember she was so encouraging, showing me how to carefully hand-form the little bocconcini in hot water. There is magic in the way Samin teaches. She wins you over immediately with an irresistible combination of warmth, honesty, deep understanding of cooking and that ebullient laugh of hers. If anyone can show us how to cook, it is Samin.
So it’s no surprise that her book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and her Netflix series are both so groundbreaking. Her book is rich with science and technique but never feels weighty; it has a joyful, whimsical quality that demystifies cooking in a very personal way. You can feel that same exuberant curiosity and radical openness in Samin’s series—she’s learning from the farmers who take care of the land, the women making their grandmothers’ recipes and of course her own mother, who taught Samin how to make tahdig, Persian crisped rice.
Samin shows us what a beautiful experience it is to understand your ingredients—where they come from, who grew them, how alive they are, how people around the world transform them in delicious, diverse ways. I love the passion and poise with which Samin delivers this message about food. Because in the end, it’s a universal message, and it’s one we have forgotten: that cooking is about care.
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