Welcome to Read This Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that should absolutely be put at the top of your TBR pile. Recommended books will vary across genre and age category and include shiny new books, older books you may have missed, and some classics I suggest finally getting around to. Make space for another pile of books on your floor because here we go!
Today’s pick is a wonderful book that is not what you think it is at first glance.
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat with art by Wendy MacNaughton
Samin Nosrat knows her way around the kitchen. She got her start at the famed Chez Panisse in Berkeley, CA and has gone on to be a New York Times food columnist, appear on Michelle Obama’s Waffles + Mochi Netflix show, co-create and co-host the Home Cooking podcast, and so much more. Most people see this book and think it’s a standard cookbook with end to end recipes and maybe little paragraphs of anecdotes to break things up. While this book certainly has recipes, it is so much more than just a cookbook. It’s part reference and part cooking instruction and it will change the way you cook forever (and for the better)! Cookbooks tell you how to make certain things. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat will teach you how to cook.
I grew up in a family that cooked a lot and so much of what we did centered around food. Before the Food Network existed, I’d watch cooking shows on PBS in the morning while I got ready for school. I am good at following recipes and once I read this book, I became so much better at winging it in the kitchen and throwing things together on a whim.
The main idea of this book is that by mastering the four elements of salt, fat, acid, and heat, you will be able to cook just about anything. I was skeptical at first but just about every sentence is a goldmine of knowledge. This moves you beyond just using iodized salt from a shaker or any ol’ olive oil and Nosrat is brilliant at not only explaining the how but the why. Why does something taste better when you use x instead of y? What is the importance of adding an acid while you cook? Or why would you in some cases use an acid as a finish?
This book is also packed with gorgeous illustrations, charts, graphs, decision-helper flowcharts, and so much more. There’s one page that opens up to an illustration of a wheel of fat, which describes what fats are most common for the origin of the cuisine you are cooking. There is a chart on recommended grain-to-water ratios and an absolutely world-changing chart of how to cook certain vegetables depending on the season of the year.
This book has changed my life and it is a must-read, must-own for any home cook.
Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!
That’s it for now, book-lovers!
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