As far as food and cooking shows go, I like to be able to set it and forget it. I like to pick a sweet and simple show I can have playing in the background while I clean my room, work on homework or write my articles for the Lawrentian. This is not that show. For starters, it takes place in Italy, Japan and Mexico, and so it is partly spoken in Italian, Japanese and Spanish. For another, the show is so rich in detail and beauty that you do not want to miss a second of it. Aside from being beautifully shot and edited, it features a delightful host and impressive guests. The show pays attention to special aspects of food and travel I have not seen covered by television before. Every dish is so delicious looking you’d be forgiven for licking your laptop screen.
Hosted by Samin Nosrat and based on her cookbook of the same name, “Salt Fat Acid Heat” consists of four forty-minute episodes, each focused on exploring one of Nosrat’s four core elements of cooking which are named in the title of the show. Each takes place in a different country and examines how that element is important to that country’s culture and conception of food, as well as why it is important to making any dish. If one masters these four elements and understands how to balance them and interact with them, they can master cooking technique and become a better cook than through learning recipe by recipe.
Nosrat also introduces the audience to knowledgeable and interesting people across many countries and cultures. She travels all around each country, visiting not only the Italian grandmas in the country and artisanal soy sauce producers at work, but also city fish markets and well-known chefs. At the end of every episode, Nosrat invites everyone from the episode over with a few guests, and they share the food described in the episode. Everyone brings something; everyone creates something — they all eat together. It is cute and heartwarming, and these scenes re-emphasize Nosrat’s beliefs that food is about creating community.
Nosrat is incredibly charming and relatable, despite being a highly trained and world-renowned chef. She gets to know each region and expert with great vulnerability and interest. Watching her taste food is delightful — she seems emotionally impacted by each taste as she takes a deep breath and repeats, “It’s… so… good.” When she takes a huge bite of a spicy taco, she begins to laugh hysterically. She also brings her mother in during one episode; watching her share a kitchen with a woman she admires so much to create a dish they both love is incredibly endearing.
Nosrat is not showing an audience member how took cook a few simple dishes, but instead sharing her techniques and the foundation for her techniques and understanding of cooking. A watcher of her show cultivates a worldwide understanding of flavor and taste.