Good Food Revolution: So you have chosen Samin Nosrat’s Salt Fat Acid Heat as your choice for the dog days of summer… but you also told me that it’s the best cookbook you’ve come across since you opened the shop. That’s a pretty massive statement!
Why do you feel that way about this particular book?
Mika Bareket (Good Egg) : Let me correct myself – it’s the most practical cookbook I’ve come across, and not just since the shop opened, but in all my years. Here is the book that teaches a person how to become a cook, and not just one who follows instructions.
GFR: Breaking cooking down into just these four elements certainly simplifies things, but my first concern is that looking at cooking through this simplified lens perhaps dumbs things down a little? Obviously correct me if you think I am wrong?
MB: Ah, well Part One delves deeply into these four very worthy elements mentioned in the title one by one, and yes, you could argue that other spices and herbs and a myriad other elements contribute to good cooking besides salt, fat, acid and heat. But that’s what the second half of the book is for. Before and betwixt the recipes in Part Two are all sorts of notes, charts and maps to other flavours and techniques.
GFR: I guess that having a good understanding of the interplay betwixt Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat lies at the very heart of cooking, interactions and combinations that perhaps those who cook regularly take for granted or see as second nature when they are in the kitchen?
MB: Sheesh, we sure do like the word betwixt. And yes, I think you just explained the idea of this book nicely. But I also see this book as a great option for those who are relatively new to the kitchen and don’t yet take anything for granted cooking-wise.
GFR: Would you give me an example of this book’s genius? Something that really impressed you, a seasoned cook?
MB:In general, I greatly appreciate Ms. Nosrat’s underlying message that good cooking is about understanding the process, knowing the rules of thumb, and then EXPERIMENTING. This is how cooking becomes liberating and fun. When someone tells me that cooking scares them, my heart sinks. Here is the antidote to that fear.
GFR: Would you say that were some correlations betwixt this cookbook and Harold McGee’s legendary On Food And Cooking? Perhaps this would be seen as a more accessible/friendlier Cole’s Notes of McGee’s book? Or do you feel that would be an unfair comparison?
MB: Science is a big part of cooking, and there is a fair dose of it in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. But just to that point where a concept is explained within the narrative. The other big part of the narrative is the role that intuition and creativity play in tweaking a dish. On Food and Cooking focuses beautifully, but solely on science. And sure, the act of eating is technically biological in nature, but we know it is much more than that.
GFR: Now the big question for me is always “If I pick up this book for my wife’s birthday tomorrow, will she feel a little more confident in the kitchen and perhaps cook a bit more?” (I kid you not!)
MB: Yes absolutely, if she is willing to read it and put it to the test. It has the look of a very charming high school text book, so perhaps warn her that handsome photos of the finished dishes are non-existant.
GFR: In a way it all seems quite revolutionary to me… as a bible to teach some fascinating core kitchen basics (and then some). Who do you feel this is the perfect book for?
MB: For those who have lots of cookbooks and/or food porn magazines with handsome photos of finished dishes, but either do not know how to decode the recipes, or struggle with the results. Or, for someone who is just starting out in the kitchen and likes adorable drawings BETWIXT thoughtful prose.
GFR: Thanks Mika, alway good to chat… and we are long overdue a drink or two.
Edinburgh-born/Toronto-based Sommelier, consultant, writer, judge, and educator Jamie Drummond is the Director of Programs/Editor of Good Food Revolution… And he’s probably going to pick up a copy today.