The book I never knew I needed…until now. 

Not long after I decided to start this blog, I was on my way to a women’s empowerment meeting (a story for another time perhaps..). As I was early and killing time, I stepped into the sole remaining bookshop in that part of town with no real need for anything. But as it turns out, there it was. Standing on the shelf. Waiting for me. My need. 
It was one of those moments when the universe dumps something in your lap and says ‘here, get your wallet out, you need this’. 
Turns out, the universe was right…again. 

Samin Nosrat’s book – Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is not only a book to help you cook, but also to help you understand why cooking works the way it does. It’s an exploration of four fundamentals of the cooking process which are vital to understanding how good food works. It goes behind the recipe and explains the reasons and motivations for so many of the food flavours that we know and love. Full of so many indispensable hints and ‘a-ha’ moments, it’s like someone finally turned the lights on in the kitchen. 

Here was a book that had me hooked from the minute I opened it. And even now that I’ve finished reading the first half (the half that I actually bought the book for), I’m still hooked. I haven’t gotten to the recipes yet, but they for me, were an added bonus, not the reason I bought it. The addition of Wendy MacNaughton’s hand drawn illustrations are perfect too for giving you a quick visual reference of the various ideas of the book; easy to follow, relatable and well categorised for quick reference. It’s well written and at an easy pace. Samin shares a lot of her triumphs and disasters with humour and humility. It’s a really personal read. 

What’s interesting about the book though, was that I didn’t want to dive into Samin’s recipes right away, but rather, use her techniques on my recipes, to see if it made a difference. And without a doubt, I can say it has. 
Samin gives you glimpse of what your kitchen future could look like, recipe free and taking inspiration from your ingredients, in the best possible way. I won’t say it will change you over night, but the next meal you make at home is definitely going to taste better, and along with it, you’ll have a good understanding of why. 

Each of the four chapters Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat covers an essential element and dives in deep to illustrate how and why it is one of the building blocks of great cooking. It’s gently food nerdy but totally inviting. It explains the theories of cooking, how and when to apply them, and how we can learn from the mistakes she has already made. Samin holds your hand and walks you through the ways you can get the very best out of the the produce and time you have, even though she does encourage you to think ahead if you really want to get the best out of your ingredients, it’s still realistic and understanding of busy lives.

If you’ve ever wanted to develop a jazz musician kind of confidence in the kitchen, do yourself a favour and have a read.
Do I have any negative points? No , because this book only enhances my enjoyment of the kitchen and knowledge of how to be a better cook. If you can do little more than master these four elements as set out by Samin, you will already be on your way to being a much better cook. 

I’ve only just finished reading the first half of the book but I found it totally worth the money and a book I would very much recommend for anyone wanting to know how cooking works. 

 

All illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton