Netflix’s “Salt Fat Acid Heat” Is the Show We’ve Been Waiting For
I spent four hours at my favorite kind of dinner party, and I never left my couch.
I traveled the world and laughed and wrote all caps notes like “LAYER YOUR SALT!” and “CREATE HEAT ZONES” and “I AM DELIGHTED!!!”
So, what’s the glow, you ask? It’s that warm conviviality that erupts over a bowl of olives, plundered as five sets of hands make a few last-minute salads in the kitchen, the smell of lasagna wrapping around them like a cloud of tomato perfume. It’s those nights you look up and realize you’ve been laughing and eating for hours longer than you expected, that you got into the flow and never once checked Instagram. It’s the friends who make you feel at home, just by bringing you to their tables and being themselves.
The four new episodes of the first season of Salt Fat Acid Heat let you carry that friend with you wherever you go. You can watch her in the kitchen. You can go on her trips and scribble her cooking tips, catch her contagious full-body laugh or toothy grin. You’ve got Samin Nosrat on demand. How lucky are you?
“It’s so soft and tender. But it has a little resistance, it’s not mushy like the inside of my cheek,” Samin says in episode four, “Heat.” She’s describing a perfectly cooked steak, and also my experience of watching this show. It’s so wide open and warm, so gentle and kind, but never schmaltzy or too glossy.
Each episode focuses on a different element (salt, fat, acid, heat), and toggles between travel and cooking. In the course of one episode, you may explore a moshio salt factory in Japan, chat with a local artisan or grandma, then land in Samin’s kitchen as she doles out advice that could transform the offerings of any home cook. Salt Fat Acid Heat plays with the traditional structures, characters, and stories of food television to create something both comforting and completely unique.
Just like the show deals with four elements, there are three basic principles that make this show so delicious: curiosity, inclusivity, and joy.
Samin’s travels are brimming with passion and exploration, but there’s no bravado to her adventures. Her eyes widen, she laughs, she asks great questions, but there isn’t any pointing and telling the audience how much better this THING is that she’s eating FARAWAY that you may never get your hands on.
That’s part of the joy of flashing between the kitchen at home, the distant locale, and the homestyle kitchens on the road. It makes it feel like we’re all part of this giant culinary quilt, and there are all these adventures we can go on at home or abroad. The adventures in our own kitchens can be equally exciting and offer their own opportunities for growth and knowledge. By keeping genuine curiosity at the forefront of her travels, her discoveries feel vibrant and fresh, as though we’re all on the road together learning new things.
Every episode features lots of women and people of color, and it features lots of home cooks and people with incredible culinary expertise who you would never see on TV because they’re not food celebrities. Friends, grandmas, soy sauce creators, and salsa fanatics are all part of the show’s cast of characters.
In almost every episode, Samin talks about how not only can everyone cook, but also everyone is capable of being a great cook. It’s a higher bar that suddenly feels achievable because it’s being offered with such useful basic tools and a big grin. Everyone is welcome in the kitchen.
Samin Nosrat makes cooking look fun. It doesn’t look scary or impossible, it doesn’t look complicated or like it requires degrees or perfectionism. Every episode ends with a dinner party full of the glow. They’re laughing. They’re passing dishes. The food looks amazing. The company looks happy to be there, together, elbow to elbow, about to dig in.
Joy! It’s what I always want to communicate about food and it’s so hard to do because food is so rife with noise. It’s diet and family and culture and body and fear. Samin cuts right through that. Even her embrace of fat and salt feels so … delicious! Fat has become popular again, thanks to the keto diet, but to be honest even the reemergence often feels so packaged in absence, like “Hey enjoy your spoonful of ghee, but don’t you dare look at a cookie again!” Samin positions fat as a fun and critical tool that makes food more delicious and tender, a building block to all the meals and bites you want in your future.
Salt Fat Acid Heat Is the Show We’ve Been Waiting For
“My ultimate goal is to make people feel comfortable and taken care of so they can pass that on to others,” Samin says in the final episode. And this is exactly how I want to make people feel. This is how I want to be.
Halfway through watching this show, I made a pan of bread pudding and set aside an hour to take it to my friends who just had a baby. I packaged up soup and bread. I came over and the baby wailed and we cracked jokes and ate bread pudding and got the glow. Watching Salt Fat Acid Heat reminded me how you can capture that glow so easily.
Put a pan in the oven. Make it hot enough. Start with fat. Consider your salts. Feed your people. Enjoy the glow.
Watch Now: Salt Fat Acid Heat on Netflix