Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
A perfect recipe for mastering all recipes.
Streaming on Netflix | TV-PG | 2018 | 1 season, 4 episodes
Genre: food, travel, documentary
Why I watched: I received the Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat cooking manual for Christmas last year, and have enjoyed reading the author's pieces in The New York Times and elsewhere. I was thrilled when I learned a corresponding TV miniseries was coming to Netflix!
You might also like: If you're craving another tasty morsel, check out Burnt on Netflix. It's a lot of fun to watch Bradley Cooper and Sienna Miller as two chefs in a super-charged kitchen right after they starred opposite each other in American Sniper. Or watch Amy Adams cook her way through Julia Child's classic cookbook in Julie & Julia, also on Netflix. Next, treat yourself to an adorable Thanksgiving episode of Gilmore Girls from Season 3, "A Deep-Fried Korean Thanksgiving." Lastly, it's one of my family traditions to watch James Bond movies all day on Thanksgiving (Spike used to play a marathon—is that still a thing?), so check out Hulu's and Amazon Prime's Bond offerings.
For Thanksgiving week, we're serving up a delicious recommendation, one that pairs perfectly with good snacks and good company. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is more than your average cooking show. Beyond depicting the execution of impressive recipes, it elegantly celebrates the integrity of ingredients, the beauty of nature, and the miracle of food chemistry. Each of the four episodes features an element from the show's title, though it takes them out of order: Fat, Salt, Acid, Heat. The first episode (your author's personal favorite) is set in the hills of Italy, because where better to celebrate the lush decadence of fat? Oh, the olive oil! The parmesan! The prosciutto! Host Samin Nosrat—author of the book upon which the series is based—shows us how all of these are produced.
This may sound a little weird, but I love watching Samin Nosrat eat. She doesn't just eat with abandon, the way Guy Fieri does; she also eats with intelligence and a burning curiosity. She stops just short of fully giving herself over to the taste, and commits to sensing it thoroughly. The taste, the smell, the history, the chemistry, the people—all these things marry to create a food experience, and each one seems to delight Nosrat equally no matter the setting. She samples wood-fired steaks in the kitchen at legendary California restaurant Chez Panisse, salty miso on the coast of Japan, and sour oranges in a market in Mexico with the same relish. You rarely see her cook alone, the way we do Julia Child or Rachel Ray or so many others who appear to cook in isolation, solely for the camera.
In the Introduction to Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, the book, Nosrat describes returning to California to work in her mentor's restaurant after living and cooking in Italy for a while. She writes, "I quickly took the role of chef de cuisine. I made it my job to develop exquisite familiarity with the way an ingredient or a food behaved and then follow the crumb trail of kitchen science to understand why." That research is what forms the basis of Nosrat's book and show, as well as the cooking system she teaches her students. What I love most about Nosrat is that despite her expertise, cooking is at its most special when it's done in the company of others—even if those others aren't trained chefs like her. She cooks together with professional cooks, friends, and family alike in each episode of the show, and each one culminates in something special: a dinner party.
I love Nosrat's dinner party philosophy so much that it inspired me to host one of my own last week. It was delightful. And yes, everyone helped in the kitchen. (Read more about our What-to-Watch List dinner party here.)
For maximum effect, watch Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat with people you like and then cook something up together.
Happy streaming—and Happy Thanksgiving 🦃 from the What-to-Watch List team! Grace