...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.
...Nosrat's talent for elegantly and exuberantly articulating technique and the science behind it is rare. It's equally rare that the resulting book is actually useful and a pleasure to read ... in a decade, your copy of Salt Fat Acid Heat may be dogeared, some pages flecked with oil, vinegar, and wine, but it will not have fallen victim to library dust bunnies, its cover faded with a decade of water rings. It has a sense of permanence ... The very ordinary-ness of salt, fat, acid, and heat becomes extraordinary with the addition of MacNaughton's richly watercolored flavor wheels, charts, and delightful instructionals ... Illustrations are analogue when deployed in magazines like Cooks Illustrated or Mark Bittman's books, but here they feel like the inverse; they add a peep hole through which to observe cooking differently. Flipping through what could have been a straightforward, practically photographed book is transformed into an experience something like culinary synesthesia ... each recipe is the best version for the purpose of cooking at home wrapped in language that will welcome in all levels of cooks across generations for decades—and perhaps the next century—to come.
This is an indispensable guide to the whole subject of cooking. The author...takes a simple scientific approach, explaining with humour and concision how all dishes boil down to four elements ... Through a blend of illustrations, grids and essays, she arms you with the underlying principles that you need to make anything taste good. The recipes in the second half are inviting, and the book as a whole will liberate even the greenest of cooks from being a slave to recipes and shopping lists. I’ve been waiting for a book like this for a long time.