Sunday, November 04, 2018

Watching "Fat Salt Acid Heat"

Based on the book Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, a new Netflix series covers the four elements of cooking. These were explored in Samin Nosrat's book (published 2017). I haven't read the book, but what I understand is that it's really about cooking techniques. In contrast, the Netflix series is essentially a travelogue with lots of discussions of local cooking and lots of interviews and cooking sessions with local food people. Each episode includes the cooking of a few specialties of the region, and shows Samin tasting the results with wonderful facial gestures in response. It's a highly enjoyable series!

The Italian countryside from the first episode of the Netflix series.
Every episode has beautifully filmed landscapes, as well as visits to farmers' markets and places where traditional foods are produced. In Italy, featured in the "Fat" episode, we visit a butcher shop that makes salumi from special pigs. (We also meet the pigs.) We visit a Parmesan cheese producer and learn that the dominant flavor of Parmesan is not just fat, but also umami, the elusive fifth taste that comes from amino acid, in this case visible crystals of amino acid that form as the wheels of cheese are aged.

Samin tastes the lardo from a leg of pork. She was born in California, but her family had recently immigrated
from Iran -- where of course pork is taboo.
Episode 2: Japanese traditional foods are the focus for Salt.

A visit to a traditional soy sauce factory.
The artisian soy sauce producers are disappearing.

Episode 3: In the Yucatan, Mexico, we learn about acid -- and also its opposite, alkali. The corn for tortillas is soaked in an alkaline solution, which makes it usable and also more digestible. Here: partially automated tortilla production. We also see
the even more traditional hand-forming and grilling of little corn tortillas.
A major source of acid flavor in the cuisine of the Yucatan is the sour orange. Here, Samin shops and cooks with
a local woman, learning to make turkey in escabeche.
Samin's expressive response to habanero peppers!
The final episode, Heat, takes place in Berkeley, California, where Samin has lived since attending college at UC Berkeley.
She worked at Chez Panisse, where part of the episode takes place.
The series wraps up in Samin's own Berkeley kitchen.
Dinner in her dining room.
Samin's mother and some friends eat roast chicken and a traditional Persian
saffron rice.

The Netflix series Salt Fat Acid Heat debuted a few weeks ago. It deserves the great reviews that it's been getting ever since. All photos are screen shots!


Jeanie said...

I've missed netflix since I've been gone and the only thing I've seen since returning is catching up on Grace and Frankie and a Midsomer Murder because I was craving British accents and PBS shows didn't "talk Brit" till Sundays!

You KNOW this is just my cup of tea, so thanks for telling me about it. I'll put it on the watch list. Rick would like it too.

Jeff said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I greatly prefer Netflix to network television, and will definitely watch it!

Karen (Back Road Journal) said...

I'll definitely have to check out the sounds very interesting.

Judee Algazi said...

I've watched it a few time on Netflix! Very entertaining, informative, and interesting. The scenery is beautiful and the host is a hoot!.

Jackie Mc Guinness said...

I have this on my must watch list, thanks for reminding me.
I have little patience with network TV any more, the amount of time spent on commercials is ridiculous.

Deb in Hawaii said...

Very interesting. I keep meaning to read the book and now I'll have to put the series on my to-watch list. ;-)

Vicki said...

I saw this show on Netflix for the first time yesterday, and almost started watching it. I'll probably start it today or tomorrow. I haven't read the book yet but have it on hold at the library.

Carole said...

I thought the book was great - will be looking out for the series. Cheers

Marg said...

Adding this to my watch list. I do like a good travelogue/cooking show

Beth F said...

I have both the book and the show on my list ... Now to find the free time.