Love and Science
Before Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat I hadn’t bought a cookbook in years. Why search for a half remembered recipe for Moroccan Chicken when you can Google it and get 10 to choose from? But cookbooks still flood into the market, many featuring food that is whole or raw or magically lifechanging in some way.
Into this wholesome scene jumps Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. Four words to strike terror into the heart. Salt (fluid retention!) Fat (no one will ever love you!) Acid (inflammation!) Heat (you’ll kill the nutrients!). And it goes nuts around the world, becoming a New York Times bestseller and attracting accolades from people like Michael Pollen and Yotam Ottolenghi.
At last month’s Writers and Readers event in Wellington, queues for this book were the longest of all. The author, Samin Nosrat, has created a must-have product in a nobody-really-needs-it market and she hasn’t done it through promising a thinner body or longer life. She’s done it through passion and an approach that goes deeper than your average recipe book. Recipes are only a part of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat – as its title suggests, it offers a scientific untangling of just what makes food taste good. Pollen writes in the intro, “recipes are infantilising: Just do exactly what I say, they say, but don’t ask questions or worry your little head about why.” Maybe it’s the science and the promise of becoming a better cook that’s ringing the sales. Or maybe it’s the rediscovery of an uncomplicated, guilt-free love of food. Nosrat is on page 12.