RaveThe Atlantic...Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is written smoothly and casually, and kept breezy via charming watercolors by the perceptive Bay Area artist Wendy MacNaughton. Nosrat’s wisdom is apparent in the way she instructs, which lets her cover food science without ever getting lost in the finer points of chemistry ... Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’s framework is a valuable user’s manual for recipes, letting even the greenest cooks disassemble them to see how their parts fit together. Her book is full of perspective-altering moments that are akin to being told about the arrow hidden in FedEx’s logo and never being able to unsee it ... Not everything described in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is easy or quick, but it is nonetheless an achievement that Nosrat’s book would be of value both to people who don’t consider themselves cooks and to people actively striving to become better ones. It is additionally impressive that she accomplished this without going into as much depth as other writers have felt the need to ... so many of today’s more popular cookbooks are essentially postcards from some idyllic region or some big-shot chef’s critically acclaimed restaurant ...These cookbooks can be enchanting, but the message they carry is that your truest, most carefree self is unlockable only by assembling the perfect grain bowl in an immaculate kitchen other than the one you own. Nosrat’s is different. It is about using simple concepts to make the most of the scratched-up cutting board, the stove in need of a thorough cleaning, and the slow-to-heat oven that are already right in front of you.
PositiveThe AtlanticTestament is Mary’s actual version of events, the more earthly side of the story that her visitors refuse to write down. Mary relates some of Christ’s most well-known plot points—the raising of Lazarus, turning water to wine, the crucifixion—all the while waxing nostalgic on simpler days, back when her son wasn’t The Son. By her account, Christ’s most well-known acts were far from providential, and Mary herself isn’t as demure as myth would have it: Halfway through the book, she threatens two disciples at knifepoint … Unlike the pure, meek woman found on votive candles, this Mary is empowered, and above all, honest. She flees the crucifixion scene before her son has died, and does so, she confesses, because it was ‘her own safety [she] thought of.’ Tóibín seems to strive for emotional fidelity: How might it actually have felt for Mary to witness her son’s trajectory?