Samin Nosrat of Salt Fat Acid Heat, both the book and the Netflix miniseries, sat down with Helen Rosner of The New Yorker for a long chat about food, identity, fame, daytime veganism, bean pots, culinary tourism, and, yes, the importance of fart jokes in cookbooks.
It’s a beautifully honest conversation about how Nosrat is learning to come to terms with moving from a lifetime of invisibility—she recalls growing up as the only brown kid in her school, feeling like she didn’t really fit in at home in California or with her family in Iran—to becoming a food world celebrity.
I’ve noticed that, if I fib a little, or exaggerate my feelings about something, people then are, like, “I love that thing, too!” And that feels terrible. So one thing that I’ve realized is ultra-important is making sure I’m surrounded by, and that I work for and with, people who are going to protect me from the forces that threaten the honesty and threaten the realness—wanting to be liked, wanting to be successful. Sometimes I’m that threatening force!
She added that food is her way of connecting to the world and showing others that people around the world have more similarities than differences. Though, sadly, sometimes this doesn’t work out as well as she hoped.
At the end of last year, the beginning of this year, all of what’s been happening with America and Iran—it was really hard for me. Last year, I did a big feature for the Times on the ten essential Persian recipes, and we had such a wonderful and positive reaction to it. But then, well, it turns out that people can like our food and still want to bomb us.
She also talked a bit about her new cookbook, another collaboration with Wendy MacNaughton, the illustrator of Salt Fat Acid Heat. “The next book is all about going out into the world and cooking with other people, and helping them figure out their own circumstances in the kitchen. It’s a book that’s trying to answer the question ‘How do you know what to cook?’”
These are just a few of the highlights. The full interview is a wonderful read. It made me wish I, too, could spend a few hours sitting with Nosrat on her patio eating tuna salad. And I don’t even like tuna salad.