I have a few things to be grateful to Samin Nosrat about.
One, her new Netflix docuseries, in which she travels the globe, from Japan to Mexico, to explore the tenets of her NYT bestselling book Salt Fat Acid Heat, is like an ingredient-based Parts Unknown (RIP Anthony Bourdain).
Two, The aforementioned 450(-ish)-page tome—part cookbook, part memoir, part manifesto, I read it in bed like a novel to glean flavor factoids (did you know blue cheese and honey are sources of acid, despite their non-lip-puckering properties?) as much as personal stories (turns out, her immigrant family's Thanksgiving experiences were not unlike my own).
And, last but not least, three, I'm grateful to have had her as the first guest on 7x7's new podcast, "People Will Talk," of which I am the host. (Hi!) Gracious, ebullient, articulate as she is, she made things easy for this novice podcast host. I'd tee up a topic—say, the relationship between surfing and cooking—and Nosrat, a Berkeley resident and former Chez Panisse chef, would hit it out of the park with her smart insights and good humor.
Nosrat, a first-generation American whose parents hail from Iran, has a perspective on food culture that's more inclusive than most, which is like a salve in the country's current divisive state of affairs. In her show, she paints a richly layered picture of the invaluable contributions of foreign lands to America's culinary culture. Women are worshipped not just for their food know-how, but also the heartfelt transmittal of that heritage intel to younger generations, and their natural ability to gather a table together for a meal.
Nosrat's own mother makes a cameo for the Berkeley episode, proudly toting a cheap-ass soup pot from Marshall's, in which she expertly makes tahdig, or Iranian crispy rice, to accompany buttermilk-brined roast chicken and a citrus salad for a dinner party with Nosrat's friends. In the end, the chef gives the viewer multiple entrées (so to speak) to the melting pot of American cuisine. "Making good food accessible is really important to me," she says. "Maybe, eventually, they'll pass that kindness onto others."
Listen to our full interview with Samin Nosrat on 7x7's "People Will Talk."