Why Netflix’s "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" is the first food show of its kind

"Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat," the beautiful, useful and informative cookbook written by James Beard Award-winning, New York Times food writer Samin Nosrat has just been adapted into a four-part Netflix series by the same name. Nosrat, the star of the new food series, and the show's director, Caroline Suh joined "Salon Talks" to discuss the making of the only food adventure show led by a woman.

"This was definitely a lady-run project. It was not by mistake. It was definitely intentional, both behind the camera and in front of the camera, the choices that we made to make something that's different," Nosrat said.

"I think there is a lot of great food TV out there but a lot of it's the same. So to me I thought, well, this is my one shot, maybe I'll never have another chance to do this. So what am I gonna do with this? I want to honor home cooks. And who are home cooks? They're almost always women."

Both the series and the book are directed at the home cook and are committed to breaking away from the slavish dedication to the written recipe. Nosrat, who worked in the kitchen at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, insists that in order to cook well all you need to do is blend the right measures of salt, fat and acid in a dish and then apply the correct amount of heat.

Astonishingly, there is not a single recipe in the book until after page 199, and there isn't one formal recipe in any of the four episodes of the show. "I used to be such a recipe follower. I'd say, oh, I don't have crème fraiche, I can't make this. Or else I have to run out and go get crème fraiche. I would be such a stickler for following the rules," Suh shared with SalonTV. "And now, because of working on this project and reading the book, I'm free. It's so much more relaxing to cook that way."

Each episode of "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" takes the viewer on a journey in pursuit of an understanding of one of these categories. Salt is addressed in Japan, fat in Italy and acid (primarily in the form of citrus) takes viewers to Mexico. Heat is the topic of the final episode and brings the audience into Nosrat's home in Berkeley.

Each episode builds on the one prior and expands an appreciation for what has been learned before. At the end of the series, what results is a remarkably nuanced command of the always-shifting balance of the four elements. The voice, structure and perspective is unique.

Watch Salon's interview with Nosrat and Suh above to find out why "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" is a welcome addition to the growing canon of exceptional food shows.

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