The fact that Salt Fat Heat Acid probably represents one of the first mainstream cooking series to be collaborated on by women of color creatives: host – Samin Nosrat and producer/director – Caroline Suh, is reason enough to watch this four part series. Yes, it is a cooking show, but it is not traditional; it does not offer viewers recipes. The premise of both the award winning book (that bears the same name) and the series is that if you master how to use these four elements – salt, fat, acid and heat – you can cook anything and make it taste great! Sure, you can watch and learn how some of the dishes are presented in the series, but that’s not the point. Samin and Caroline are all about making everyone feel comfortable as a cook and understand how and why food tastes good.
The series starts with Fat as its first episode rather than Salt, because Fat introduces us to Samin’s origin story as a chef – she spent the early years of her career learning to cook in Italy. In this wonderous episode viewers are introduced to a majestic countryside and shown the process of how olive oil is harvested, pressed and enjoyed – in a wine glass no less! In each episode, viewers are disarmed by Samin’s infectious humor and enjoyment of all kinds of food from Italy, Japan, Mexico and even California. The Salt episode features a very poignant interchange with a Japanese artisanal soy sauce whisperer and the Heat episode is special because it includes a segment with Samin’s own mother as they cook tahdig, an amazing Persian rice dish! Caroline Suh’s background as a documentary filmmaker certainly lent itself to the uniqueness of this series. The shows make use of an innovative teaser technique that includes large text and quirky stock footage and photographs that emphasize the experience each episode will cover. Samin is extremely charismatic and kudos to Caroline for bringing out the human nature and joy of Samin’s personality. In the volatile times that we live in, watching this series will make you feel better as a human being. Clearly this team of women respect each other and want us to enjoy food as much as they do!
Zeinabu irene Davis is an American filmmaker and professor of the Department of Communication at the University of California, San Diego. Her works in film include narrative, documentary and experimental film. Davis is the 2019 recipient of the George C. Stoney Award for Outstanding Documentary Work from UFVA (University Film and Video Association). She is the first person of color to win this award. A selection of her award winning works includes Cycles (1989), A Period Piece (1991), A Powerful Thang (1991), Mother of a River (1995) and Compensation (1999) which are distributed by Women Make Movies. Her most recent documentary, Spirits of Rebellion: Black Film from Los Angeles (2016) is carried by Cinema Guild.