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‘Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat’ Is a Love Letter to Amateur Cooks (theatlantic.com)
415 points by tomhoward 61 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 130 comments

I've read the book and watched the series. Both are fine.

The series is in a weird place in between Mind of a Chef (which, in most of its seasons, is a significantly better show) and a more conventional FoodTV cooking show. I think they're trying to do too much in each episode, and also that the travel-show part of each episode works better than the cooking demos do.

The book is better than the show. I have friends that swear by it. I like it fine! It sort of joins a pantheon of "if you're only going to own one cooking book make it this one" books, which would include Bittman's "How To Cook Anything", Ruhlman's "Twenty", the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook, and, I don't know, maybe "Joy of Cooking"?

Of those books, I think Ruhlman's "Twenty" is by far the best. It's similar to "Salt, Fat" in the sense that it breaks cooking down by technique and concept, instead of courses or dishes. But I think it has a more coherent structure, covers more ground, and, while wasting less time on narrative, still manages to establish a conversational tone.

In New Zealand that "one cooking book" is the Edmonds Cookery Book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmonds_Cookery_Book

Tells you all the essentials of how to cook meat and veges and make basic sauces and all that, plus has a whole lot of relatively simple recipes that use common ingredients.

What's scary is comparing the old versions of the Edmonds Cook Book with the more recent versions and seeing how much more sugar we're putting in a lot of the stuff we're making.

Would be fun make the same recipes from different editions and compare. I've noticed some minor variations between my parent's copy and mine but neither are really old.

I remember my ANZAC biscuits recipe in particular has less butter and more sugar, like you say, and is clearly inferior. A bit sad. However we also have Edmonds: Best of Baking, which is newer than my Edmonds Cookbook, and prescribes more like the old recipe with more butter.

I remember looking up eggnog recipes and realizing that the 1950s used twice as much whiskey as the modern versions

That was some good eggnog

Looking at recipes on the Internet it seems eggnog barely contains any whiskey by volume. By comparison German Eierlikör consists mostly of korn (a 32% ABV clear liquor similar to vodka) or white rum.

I'm not sure what 1950s eggnog looked like but I'm guessing it was more like the German style Eierlikör (i.e. made mostly with liquor and eggs) than the modern eggnog (i.e. mostly milk and cream).

Was the whiskey of the 1950s lower proof?

Definitely not. In fact, I think more of it was probably bonded (100 proof).

We recently had a 2nd hand copy shipped to NYC to bring a little bit of home back to the kitchen.

It’s almost like the Michelin: intended to sell more of a product (tires/flour), but ended up iconic in its own right.

Some of the more basic “the Good Housekeeping Cookbook” earlier editions (50s, 60s) are nice and basic; aren’t flashy, but you get the basics. Rabbit Stew, Gumbo, and 1000 others.

Do all the "cooking bibles" assume a specific cuisine?

Depends on the book. For example, Joy of Cooking is pretty standard American and Italian/French-by-way-of-America fare (unsurprisingly, since it was first published in the US in 1931), while How To Cook Everything has a much wider remit.

Yes, in my expericen they all kind of do.

This doesn't mean that you won't find recipes from a foreigen cuisine in them. Most of them are however adapted to the cuisine the book is from.

Sometimes it's a recipe that is basically unknown in it's country of supposed origin (Spaghetti with meatballs).

But often they are only adapted to the different preference in taste, or the different things you will get at the grocery store.

I think the series is pretty enjoyable if you think of it as a celebration of food and how, across the world, the same few fundamental elements come together to do so much magic. It's not really a show about teaching cooking or even delving into the details of specific dishes.

Might not be a "classic", but in my opinion, The Food Lab is one of those 'if you only own one' book. Though it might seem like it is for home cooks who aren't just beginning.

I remember you talking about serious eats somewhere so I'm interested why you didn't include this.

The problem with “The Food Lab” is that by the time you get to it there is virtually no chance it’s your first. Compare to something like “The Joy of Cooking” or “How to Cook Everything”.

The latter are considered normal & good gifts for kids living on their own for the first time. With the former, it might be one I’d keep if I were only allowed 1 with my experience now, but it’s certainly not the one I’d go with if I knew I could only ever be exposed to 1.

I’d definitely include the food lab in such a list but I think it likely resonates with the tech/science crowd a bit more than say the general public. Kenji is really thorough and at times scientific in his explanations. I could see it being off putting to someone who just wants to know what works or doesn’t.

In a similar case of you recalling him mentioning the food lab, I believe it was his mentioning of the podcast “Cooking Issues” that made me a subscriber.

Although not a cookbook, McGee's On Food And Cooking certainly improved my ability to cook.

Haven't read the book, but there was definitely something off about the Netflix series. It was good and worth watching. While Samin is a wonderful, jolly personality and a large brained chef, she is not interesting enough to carry the series.

I think the first half of "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" is a good companion for the "how to cook everything" books. If you have other resources you like for recipes and techniques, you can read it just for how it breaks down the flavor of dishes, the title concept, and skim the rest.

The show is very different from the book. It's a great pleasure to watch, even though I don't feel like I learn anything that improves my cooking. I agree that the cooking demos don't add much. It feels like she isn't as comfortable looking at the camera as she is conversing in front of it, and she's already said everything so well in the book, you might as well skip to the next episode.

In India that single cookbook would be 'Modern Cookery' by Thankam E Philip.

I clicked around in the Amazon previews and Modern Cookery reads a lot like "New Pro Chef", the Culinary Institute textbook.

Indian here, who loves to cook.

I do not know the book the GP mentions about, but the best cookbooks happen to be in languages of the region of India, where the food is consumed. If you can find the English translations of these, that is your best bet. The other option is to buy regionally produced (often no photos, poor print) english books. You need to roll with the ingredients being called as-is, and need to repurpose it.

One such popular book, which has been in print for 65 years, is called "Samaithu Paar" (Loosely "Try to cook"). The original book was in Tamil, but Penguin has published an extract of sorts in English - https://penguin.co.in/book/non-fiction/the-best-of-samaithu-...

On the second school of "poorly produced, but in English" variety, at least for South Indian cooking, I suggest the books of Mallika Badrinath. https://www.amazon.in/Books-MALLIKA-BADRINATH/s?ie=UTF8&page...

Having read a few "award winning" Indian cookbooks, they are largely food-porn variety of books, and I find them bulky and of little use.

Thangam Phillip is not like the typical food-porn Indian cookbook, it is a two volume encyclopediatic book which she wrote in the early years of independent India, originally to assist the nascent hospitality Industry.

Thank you. Did not know about her.

Sorry to go off topic, but you should know that I read this in Patrick Batemans voice. I'd probably consider that a compliment.

I started to watch the video series set in Italy featuring the author. I agree with the premise, thought a few scenes were interesting (particularly the butcher and harvesting olives in the first episode), but just couldn't get into the cooking and dining scenes ... too heavy on the "food porn" and too light on the "whys" of what they are doing. They just do something, and people are mostly left to their imaginations of why this combination or process or amount leads to the terrific outcome shown on the screen.

I will say one thing about the video series that was refreshing: She learned Italian, and for the most part talks with people who can't speak English. Many cooking travel shows are forced to rely on interpreters, expats, or locals who can speak English, which really limits the expertise and viewpoints that can be shared.

I watched the first episode. I really liked it and will watch the the rest shortly.

Her enthusiasm about food was pretty contagious. And it was interesting. If there is a complaint, its a little light on the how-to (it isn't "america's test kitchen), and it needed a little more content for the length. I found it interesting to see the Italian attitude to food and also found the "olives" and butcher interesting (as well as the pesto segment..).

I think that the series is more about what is to cook food, not how to cook it. It's a different lens over the same matter.

I love that she spoke Italian in that episode. It's why I like the Mexico episode because she speaks a lot of spanish.

I'm not a fan of the book. I mean, it's all correct, the illustrations are beautiful, not much to bicker about.

But it fell flat for me, maybe because I already have Twenty and a few other books.

I did not find really new concepts, and none of the recipes really jumped out at me and made me want to cook them, I returned the book.

It's fine, really, but I think there are better ones. Twenty for concepts, Ratio for "show me quickly how to do X" and, my special tip, How to Cook without a Book by Anderson.

Just disregard her list of ingredients you should always have in stock, because you'd probably need to convert one of your larger rooms into a pantry. It goes on and on for pages.

But the recipes and the whole presentration is top-notch. Including a short rhyme at the beginning of every chapter that tells you Ratio-like how to do a basic whatever the chapter is about.

If you read German, get Nahrungszubereitung Schritt für Schritt by Schlieper. It's a very thin book, full of illustrations, because it is for school use (including special-needs schools). Very basic. What parts of the beef or pork are there. What kinds of rice are readily available in the supermarket. Basic recipes like pancakes, roux, Bologna sauce. They tell you how to cook pasta.

It's conventional. None of the higher-level stuff like "let your steak rest after cooking" or "more salt into your pasta water". But it's great for all those little things like roux that "normal people" don't do often and forget the details.

I just hope they added a real index in a later edition, because I don't find anything in their botched simulation of an index.

> None of the higher-level stuff like "let your steak rest after cooking"

That's not particularly “higher-level”.

There is several paragraphs in the book about adding way more salt to pasta water.

You're talking about the wrong book.

> I returned the book.

Wait, what? You read the book, returned it, and feel no shame in admitting it?

I skimmed it for about a quarter hour. Just as I would have in a bookstore.

That's actually the reason why Germany has returning rights by law when buying online.

wut. if the book isn't good why would one feel ashamed of returning it? is there a moral obligation to keep a bad product?

After you've used it, absolutely. I wouldn't dream of using something I paid for and then demanding money back after I've used the item.

> is there a moral obligation to keep a bad product?

No, but I feel there's a moral obligation to not ask for your money back for a product you didn't like after using it. This of course doesn't apply if the product is faulty/broken such that it can't be used.

Do you do that for other things in your life, like demanding money back after watching a movie you later decide you don't like, or do you just walk out of restaurants without paying if you decide you didn't like the food (after eating it)?

A cultural difference, I guess.

It's not a fiction book you read for entertainment. Books of this nature are meant to be a reference and resource you continue using.

I feel that's beside the point. The vendor can no longer sell it as a new book. You've deprived them of some value, and you refuse to pay for what they've lost.

I feel there's in inherent risk in any trade. You rarely know for certain that you'll love what you're paying for, and you should accept that risk.

One shouldn't feel entitled to 100% satisfaction when one makes a purchase, and certainly shouldn't deprive the vendor of money just because you decided after the fact that you didn't like what you bought.

I suppose this is to be expected from people raised in an environment where multi-billion dollar corporations compete for customers and can afford to offer "just because I didn't like it" returns free of charge.

It's foreign to me.

> I suppose this is to be expected from people raised in an environment where multi-billion dollar corporations compete for customers and can afford to offer "just because I didn't like it" returns free of charge.

you hit the nail on the head. amazon has a policy where they will let you get a full refund within n days as long as you haven't significantly damaged the item yourself. they're not stupid; they do realize some people will just use the thing a couple times and return it. so they do the math on their end and figure out what kind of return policy they can afford to offer. why wouldn't you take advantage of this? companies only offer this kind of policy because they expect to make even more money because of it.

> as long as you haven't significantly damaged the item yourself

As an aside, my limited experience with buying "new" books from Amazon is that they are always significantly damaged on arrival.

If it just isn't quite for you, sure. But if the product turns out to be garbage, personally I feel like the vendor needs a strong signal saying so...


This is a discussion about returning a product because "it just isn't quite for you."

For the OP to have returned the book, the vendor must have accepted the book for returns.

By providing a returns policy, the vendor is presumably able to generate increased trust and provide sufficient value by doing so, as a customer may not have made the purchase at all without a returns policy.

>I feel there's in inherent risk in any trade.

And why should the consumer accept that risk and not the vendor?

Because the buyer is making the decision to purchase. It's their choice, and particularly in this case they have very good data to support the decision (actually leafing through the book in a bookstore, reading the countless reviews available online, etc).

Caveat emptor.

If OP had bought the book from Samin Nosrat selling her own book out of a stall, I highly doubt he'd return the book a week later demanding his money back just because he didn't like what he read... that'd be a shitty thing to do. The reason he felt no shame in this was because there was a faceless corporation between him and the author.

As Tomte noted, EU law requires that you be able to return online (and catalogue, phone, and other distance marketing) purchases within 14 days, exactly because in those cases you don't have the possibility of leafing through a book or having a product demonstrated at a store. Reviews aren't a substitute for that.

Full detail can be found at https://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/consumers/shopping/gua...

Thanks for that.

> The vendor can no longer sell it as a new book.

Returns generally can be, and usually are, sold again as new unless damaged or returned for defect, AFAIK.

>A cultural difference, I guess.

which culture do you think you're a part of that i'm not? just curious.

>After you've used it, absolutely. I wouldn't dream of using something I paid for and then demanding money back after I've used the item.

so cars that have defects that have been used shouldn't be subject to recalls?

I don't understand the mass downvoting here. If the book isn't good and the owner got nothing out of it, what's so wrong with returning it?

EDIT: People read books that I write and return them all the time saying they suck / it wasn't for them / etc. That's kinda the point of a return policy. I don't take it poorly.

Great book - every home cook should read it. A truly effective philosophy for building dishes. You’ve maybe heard the expression “the acid cuts through the fat” before and this book explains why and is useful in finding ways to adapt this technique.

Having 50 or so pages dedicated to salt is great. Knowing when to salt something and what effect it will have on the food is particularly useful. Effective brining and salting is critical to cooking.

I didn’t care too much for the show. Just unremarkable imo. But the book is great.

love the book. didn't think the show captured the essence of it that well, looked like a 4-episode set piece for a future cooking series. but the book is really good. sits on top of the educational pile for me, together with the "silver spoon" book.

I haven't read the book, but I share your feeling about the show. It was a bit disappointing.

If we're on the topic of how to cook rather than just what to cook: I just got A New Way to Dinner (a cookbook from Food52) earlier this summer and have been using it religiously pretty much every week since. It's a strategy guide on how to prep all your food on the weekend and have diverse meals throughout the week. You basically do 1-3 hours of cooking on the weekend to make the components for your dishes, and then a bit of assembly work during the week to combine different components and build your meals (i.e. A roast chicken on Monday can turn into a chicken salad with fennel on Wednesday and a chicken salad sandwich for lunch anytime during the week)

If I don't plan and cook my meals like this, then I end up either spending an hour plus to make a new dinner every weeknight, or getting lazy and frying up some eggs, or making a huge batch of whatever and reheating the same thing again and again. It's been such a timesaver during the week, I really wish more recipes & cookbooks were formatted like this.

Thank you for mentioning it. It is a useful way to organise a book for busy people who wants to cook. I found this aspect of the book interesting and searched for some reviews and found this critique of its ingredient list; that it is expensive:

>>> ... seem unaware of their privilege ... ask you to buy near industrial quantities of certain expensive ingredients. Worse, there’s often no suggestion as to alternatives if the budget cannot quite stretch to a kilo of black raspberries ... painfully unconscious of this element to their book ... an expressly upper middle class lifestyle cookbook. [] <<<

I usually discount criticisms of privilige but in this case of a cookbook it seems to be synonymous with expensive.

[] http://cookthesebooks.com/a-new-way-to-dinner-amanda-hesser-...

Anyone know of other books or resources along similar lines?

I haven’t found the ingredients to be too expensive for most of the menus honestly, but I also live by a really cheap fruit and veggie store. (A kilo of blackberries isn’t gonna break the budget when it’s $1.00 a carton.) The book’s recipes are sized for a family of four hence the huge portions; I’m single so I usually cut the recipes in half and save a lot for leftovers. I’d say there’s a lot of substitutes you can make in the book for rare/pricier items and it’s realistic for most middle class budgets. They also group menus by season, so you buy the ingredients for the week when the produce is at its cheapest. But yeah, they do have the occasional ingredient like ground lamb or garlic scapes that can make the menus annoying/expensive to put together exactly.

Sounds like something I might want to try. We mostly cook vegetarian, so roast chicken turning into salad and then sandwhiches is out, would you still recommend it?

On a sidenote, this made me realise Food52 is back online for me; it used to be down with a GDPR apology page, I stopped checking after a while.

I would not recommend it for vegetarians as most of their menus have meat as a core dish unfortunately. The idea is translateable to a vegetarian diet; the menus are not.

Has anyone else noticed that there has been a massive surge in cooking books, videos, and shows in the last 10-15 years? Especially on TV, it's wall to wall cooking shows. I remember that cooking was a big interest 20-25 years ago, but it seems so much bigger now. Anyone have any theories about why this may be, or if my impression is wrong?

My own theory is that many more men are into cooking nowadays, so the market for cooking-related things may have expanded up to 100%. Also, car ownership is becoming a burden rather than fun, and new home ownership is becoming unaffordable, therefore conversation about something everyone has in common has shifted from cars and homes over to cooking.

The west has culturally moved into a kind of foodie Epicureanism in the past 15 years. This can be seen as a response to economic pressures that young people are facing. When you can't afford a home or a car, you give up on it altogether and suddenly you have all this disposable income to spend on smaller and more transient sensory experiences like food and travel. Importantly, these experiences are able to be catalogued on social media.

Instagram is a huge factor in the rise of foodie-ism. If you are what you eat then you can use pictures of food as a form of self-expression. Picture of a dish at a quirky new restaurant? You're adventurous and on-trend. Made a sourdough bread from scratch? You're artisanal and authentic.

We also have to consider that 'cool food places' is one of the biggest draws that have led people to move into big cities in the past 15 years. Young people are ditching chain restaurants for hipster authenticity. Fetishising the latest Pho place as being more authentic than the last is one way to demonstrate your competence in the urban marketplace of food choices. Which leads on to the phenomenon of 'review-ism': how we now depend on internet reviews to decide where to go.

My grandparents made a cookbook for all their children, and it was full of microwaved recipes and dumping jars of processed foods together. I looked into remaking it with better bindings as it was falling apart, but the recipes are all so gross. So I feel like part of it is generational, that we can get good ingredients, and value high quality food more than before. As much as people hate on blue apron, they kinda proved there's a demand for it, even if its not a viable price point.

The other thing wrt television... old cooking shows were boring. Throw in a dose of reality tv, make it exciting, and people will watch. It's also one of the few tv shows where a person could pretty reasonably recreate it, probably simplified, within their own home.

It’s interesting - I assume you’re American as am I. The approach to food was completely changed after WW2 in the USA. There was so much new food tech that looking back isn’t so nice but that people of that time embraced (and many still do). And for good reason it would seem looking back through their lens.

Food and cooking lost a lot of value in our culture for many years. We started optimizing around the wrong things (fast and easy - cooking is a struggle!) and then again after more wrong things (lets replace fat with extra salt and processed foods!). And only lately has the idea of “fresh and seasonal” started to become more mainstream - again. Where as before the War it was what people did because it was how it was.

There’s a lot of good cooking in the USA that just vanished from before the War. Very localized dishes, lots of stews. Some old cookbooks reveal how much we’ve changed and have also reclaimed old values.

I remember hearing that after WW2 processed foods were seen as futuristic. It was more consistent batch to batch, less likely to spoil, and safer to eat. After a few generations of that it's seen as generic and bland.

This digging up of pre-industrialized food cherry picks the best of each area and uses higher standards for food quality and safety (that would have been unfeasible generations ago).

I'm not knocking regional food, I'm glad this is happening and love to see and try new things. I hate seeing the US covered by the same handful of chain restaurants.

A big part of it was we had the factories, machines and workflows to convert wartime manufacturing into peacetime manufacturing. We mastered the concept of processing and preserving food for GI's and converted it to households. Cooking was sold as a laborious task wrought with potential for failure. From there the next phase of industrial mastery was developing fast food restaurants and selling the idea that even preparing the pre-made meals was too much work and hassle - a true victory of Madison Ave.

We've come full circle now where inefficiently producing and purchasing high quality ingredients and having the time and resources to cook them is now the higher class activity VS the efficient processed food sold to the masses.

Cream of mushroom soup and Cheese Whiz!

Because Instagram/ other social media has taken over and sharing food pictures is one of the major categories of posts on Instagram. Doubly so, a category that a regular Joe can participate in by posting their own food pictures as opposed to say posting your 6 pack abs photos.

Notice how most of these cooking shows rely on eye popping photography and visuals, which have become that much more prominent with better and better smartphone cameras. With above 2 factors in place, it's not surprise that there is an explosion in cooking related media and shows.

Contrast this with potentially other entertainment categories which cannot be posted very easily on social media, like learning piano or guitar etc.

Alton Brown talked about this in his Hot Ones interview but basically Food Network became insanely popular directly after 9/11, as a sort of apolitical escape from the real world.

Interesting. The latest season of Serial claims that cooking shows are what's on the tvs in the waiting rooms for courts (in Cleveland) because they're so apolitical.

Makes sense, I guess.

Lately I have been visiting Doctor's office lot more. And I notice HGTV is choice of TV channel in at least 5 different Dr's office. Again I think a kind of apolitical choice.

Well, this is all obviously speculation, but here are some things that I think contributed to it: First of all I think that it's a reaction to a generation of people growing up with chain restaurants and ready to cook meals. They see that it's unhealthy, there's more to food, and they want to move past that. Similarly they maybe didn't have someone to teach them about food and cooking growing up so they have to fill that space and lack of experience. Notice how a nearly every book or show has to involve some line about how cooking this way, or the inspiration for this or that, has been passed down from generation to generation? Also, you could look at it partially as an environmental/economic thing. People feel good consuming local/seasonal/organic/natural/whatever food. But knowing how to do that properly requires some amount of knowledge that they don't have. Lastly there's a certain amount of cultural cache to knowing things about food that other people might not know. You feel like you get brownie points for knowing about a local spot no one's been to that has good food. Being able to make a good meal has been built up as a sort of unique and desirable skill to have, while at the same time being a really easy skill to attain. People take pride in things like being able to make the "best" barbecue sauce or bake a decadent, attractive cake.

I think it’s because many people love the idea of cooking but don’t have the time or will power to actually do much of it. It’s like fantasizing about living an active, outdoor lifestyle but all you end up doing is browsing the aisles at REI and picking up a couple of new t-shirts.

Does anyone know of a cookbook that provides complete meals? The ones I’ve had recommended all assume you kinda know what you want to make. But I want someone else to tell me what to make, and I’ll just put it all together.

It's not really a cookbook, but check out my website https://www.EatThisMuch.com/

You can set it to just one meal if you want (and something like 600 calories) and keep regenerating it until it looks like something you'll like. I started it because I'm terrible at thinking about what I want to eat :)

I love this! I'm having trouble balancing my diet, largely because I don't put in the time in research, and this does all these things. Great idea.

However, I follow a vegetarian diet (as in 95% of my intake is vegetables, legumes and grains), and the generator is having trouble composing meal plans. It says so if you click on Details next to the calorie target. The picked meal plans differ from the carb/fat/protein targets significantly, and the meals are all uncooked: salads, smoothies and deserts. So the vegetarian "menu" doesn't really work, unfortunately.

I thought that the database is severely skewed towards animal-based diets, but if I pick "anything" in the diet menu, I still get mostly salads, sandwitches, scrambled eggs, and stuff like yogurt, nuts, cheese slices, with some meat and eggs here and there of course. What stands out is that most things seem to require very little preparation. Is this tool oriented towards people unexperienced in the kitchen? Or maybe people who don't want to spend time preparing food? That's a nice option to have, but to only have recipes like that is a bit strange. Also, since I was told by a physician I should avoid raw vegetables and eat them well cooked (I used to eat raw or minimally cooked in the past), at least 3/4 of the suggested meals are no-go for me.

Thanks for the feedback!

You're right that the default settings are pretty skewed towards simple meals. We need to make these options more prominent I think, but if you click the 3-dot menu next to a meal's title, you can change the allowed prep-time and desired "meal complexity".

The meal complexity has a huge impact on what recipes are available, and if you bump a couple meals up to moderate or complex, you'll get a lot more variety. Let me know if that improves things at all for you (I think a lot of the more interesting vegetarian/vegan dishes probably fall under a higher complexity setting).

Some more (helpful) suggestions: For two meals I'd love to pick which meals, because I prefer eating a late breakfast and dinner, and the meal options seem to be dependent on the type of meal. Ability to limit sugar amounts (or carbohydrates) without limiting to paleo or no wheat. Being able to nix certain things (like protein shakes, not my thing). I know that you can just refresh, but I'd rather be able to veto something all together. But great work!

Thanks! You can do those things if you create a free account - once your account is set up, you can exclude recipes by ingredients or keywords, as well as customize the layout of meals or create your own meal types (there's a big "Edit week" button in the top right of the planner).

There's a lot of customizability, but it's been a long-time problem of ours figuring out how to make all the options intuitive to find/use without overwhelming the user. If you dig into it any more, let me know if you have any other feedback!

Thank you for creating this.

Some feedback / feature requests: My family is 4 - a 4 yr old and a 1 yr old in the mix. They eat what we eat.

So, I put in one meal for 1800 calories, which is roughly dinner for two adults and half dinner for two toddlers. Ideally, one adult would have enough leftovers for lunch the next day.

The main results I got included egg dishes or oatmeal, so very breakfast heavy. The option to choose meal type would be great!

Planning our family dinners is a significant friction point in our lives - we have a very difficult time thinking about what we will want, getting the food ordered (we primarily do grocery delivery), and getting it on the table quickly (we pick the kids up from care at 6, do the playground, and then quick cook to try to have family dinner 7-730. This resource has so much potential to remove or minimize that friction and I really appreciate it!

Glad to hear it! You can swap meal types when you create an account, but if you don't want to create an account, you can edit the settings on Breakfast with the 3-dot menu (and even just name it something else like Family Dinner).

At the moment, you can set an integer multiplier on a meal to have it scale up the ingredients (it's the Family Scale setting on the Meal Type). However, it will still be based on your own nutrition targets, and you might want to set it for 3 people and split one serving between your two kids.

If you wanted something more targeted for each of your family members, would it still be appealing to you the planner said something like "You eat one serving, your wife 0.8 servings, and each of your kids 0.4 servings", with some gram weight measurements, or are exact nutrition targets not super important for your needs?

Thank you for the reply. For my use, exact nutrition targets are not super important, but I could see families all going in on a new diet plan together as a resolution. Might be a good feature to implement before New Years!

Best of luck!

I don't really like this. When I am cooking, I am not watching my calorie intake and sodium/cholesterol levels. I want to enjoy cooking with fresh, local, seasonal ingredients. No choice anywhere in the options to choose the region, the season, or base ingredients. This is just encouraging a supermarket-shopper lifestyle that needs to disappear ASAP (imported agriculture/greenhouse produce growing is amongst the worst climate offenders).

Thank you for making this...this is incredible! Sent to my sports nutritionist too.

This is very well done. I just wish there was a Google login instead of Facebook.

Thanks! We've been meaning to add Google login at some point, but I usually forget which one I used when other websites offer multiple options, so I've been a bit hesitant. It's probably a non-issue if we can just link multiple logins to the same account.

How about an option for restricting sugar intake? I tried your website with a diet of 1500 kcal and the suggestions are roughly twice the recommended daily amount (which is around 30g, I think).

What a useful tool! It's an answer to a problem I've had for years, which I've had no idea how to formulate in order to solve. Thank you for making and posting this.

This site is really well made! Nice job!

Thanks! We've been working on it for quite a few years, and steadily improving things bit by bit.

This is amazing.

Well I don't know what you mean by "complete". That is very culture dependent.

But I think you'll want to explore cookbooks with two different approaches. I got 2 recommendations...

* Opinionated -- "The Art of Simple Food" by Alice Waters. This is a comprehensive cookbook covering many different recipes with words on technique and lots of background about the ingredients and how to use them effectively. It doesn't make assumptions or gloss over stuff.

* Ingredient-focused -- "Market Cooking" by David Tanis. This focuses on recipes using ingredients that one finds in farmer's markets. I like this approach because it is a smart idea to start with what is good/fresh and available in your location first, and then find recipes for it, than the other way around.

Both of these will give some guidance about what goes with what in terms of flavor and ingredients.

I'm quite fond of Gordon Ramsay's "Sunday Lunch". It's essentially a series of 3 course meals. One of the nice things is that it's laid out with instructions that assume you're doing the entire meal, so it has a section on what to do the day before, 4 hours before serving, 1 hour before, etc. It helps quite a lot if you haven't a lot of experience managing the timings of several dishes to arrive at the same time. Something I used to struggle with when I first started cooking.

https://www.cooksmarts.com/ is amazing. 4 complete meals per week, can tweak serving sizes and dietary constraints, takes seasonality of vegetables into account, strives to have overlapping ingredients, tells you what you can prep ahead of time, great video guides to fill gaps in your techniques, and the food is generally fast to prepare and quite tasty.

You can also easily search the back catalog of recipes if you don't fancy the current week's meal plan.

Go to MapCrunch, click "Go", copy location into Google Maps, look for "restaurants", pick a restaurant, look for menu, select an entree that looks good, and put it together.

I got Perth, Australia, found a restaurant, found the menu, and found this entree: "Chicken Breast filled with Camembert Cheese & Spinach. Served with Mediterranean Vegetables, Pear potatoes, Broccolini & Sun-Dried Tomato Coulis".

The Family Meal is a good place to start. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11955187-the-family-meal Good mix of base sauces & 3 course meals..

How to Cook Everything is the one cookbook you should own. It walks through all the basic cooking techniques for every type of food. Including how to select, prep and store. What kinds of foods can be cooked the same ways. It's like a home cooking textbook.

platejoy? Well its not technically a cookbook, but...

Its a y combinator company and does meal planning online. If you have some diet restrictions its useful. I does seem to grocery list/ knows what you should have in stock (digital pantry based on your shopping list). We've been using it a couple years now (after dealing with the overflowing vegetables from a CSA) and its been good. Lost a little weight too.


My wife is loving this book. It's very different from other cookbooks. It's more narrative, and teaches you how to think about cooking rather than just providing recipes to follow.

This is the exact reason why I became a huge fan of Chef John since 2010. He has follow-along style videos of cooking different dishes. What I love about him is that he purposely keeps a fluid recipe to add in what you like, omit anything you don't, concious about possible alternative ingredients for personal taste, dietary restrictions, etc. Also has a great sense of humor.

I highly recommend checking out some of his videos here https://www.youtube.com/foodwishes

I haven't read the book, but based on your description it sounds like she might also like The Food Lab by Kenji Lopez-Alt.

Food Lab gets much deeper into the chemistry and the why / how than the TV series. I was kinda hoping for some more direct cooking guidance rather than having my appetite whet by the show, but it was still fun to watch.

I just finished watching this and LOVED it. I haven't read the book yet, but it is now on my todo list. I love to cook and found so many tips in here to make rethink how to assemble a meal.

I read the book last year and watched a couple of the episodes of the show last weekend.

The book is super informative and useful for thinking about how to build dishes that will taste good. The show seems more like a food travel show that is semi based around on of the items.

Both are good, but if you were impressed by the show, the book will blow you away.

Def planning to watch the series and prob pick up the book as well

I loved the book and have (so far) watched only the first episode of the show.

I look at the book as being full of low hanging fruit. The salt chapter alone has improved my cooking tremendously, and I thought I was already fairly aware of salt before I read it. It made me more bold with something I thought I already knew.

The acid chapter took away any shame I had about loving sour cream and ketchup, which was worth the read in and of itself.

I liked the travel show style of the show, and really liked how she built up the concepts in the focaccia recipe. As educational programming, it was superb. By the time she actually makes the focaccia the viewer has a love/appreciation for every single ingredient.

I don't think I've had such a visceral jealousy of someone eating on tv as I did when they bit into that focaccia.

The point she's trying to make, I think, is that the recipe anchors the region, the cuisine style, the way of life, and the meal it is enjoyed with. This was done beautifully. I will always appreciate focaccia more in the future for it.

Shelby Stanger had a great interview with her on the most recent episode of the "Wild Ideas Worth Living" REI podcast.


If you get nothing else from watching this show, try making your own focaccia. It's a relatively simple bread to make, doesn't require special ingredients or techniques, and bakes in a sheet pan. If you can make brownies, you can make focaccia.

So one of my favourite entrees (in the Australian sense of the word, not the American) is toasted focaccia with olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip in it; I never made it often because focaccia is quite expensive here. You've just changed my world (and likely made me fat! I kid :P)

>entrees (in the Australian sense of the word, not the American)

Despite traveling pretty extensively, I somehow never noticed this.

For those that are as lost on this as I am, it looks like this is a result from the compression of meals from 5-15 courses down to the more standard 1-3. At the time, entree would not match its current use anywhere in the world - your meal would have both fish and a roast, and the entree would be the course in between the two. Something like chicken, lobster, ragu, etc.

When meals became less elaborate affairs, a lot of food items that would historically be the entree became acceptable to be the main course. In France and much of the English speaking world, to keep what was called the entree more in line with the French meaning of the root word (Apparently, specifically the entrance to a theater or musical performance), it became what Americans would call a starter or appetizer. America and most of Canada instead kept the word in line with the type of food item being consumed, which had shifted the previous pre-roast courses to being the primary course.

And no one uses it how it was originally used in France, to refer to a stage and related set of courses for the dinner, rather than for any one course.

(Sorry for the tangent, but hopefully this clears up the confusion for anyone else reading this)

I haven't read the book, but watched the series. I agree with some of the comments -- it's all about the love for food, watching the series makes you love the process of sourcing the ingredients, finding the right balance, and authentic insights from people who have been doing this without the recipe books. If you want the recipe, there are a million other resources in a quick google search.

I like watching that series when I just want to chill and zone out a bit. I like seeing how food was originally made. The episode where she is making pesto properly (ie not with a blender that just chops instead of crushing and leaves you with crap oily rubbish - what I used to do) made me really want to visit Italy and just eat everything.

She's amazing. So humble and accessible.

My wife said, after we finished watching her show, that Samin seems to be the kind of person she would love to be close friends with.

> Nosrat’s work to diversify the kinds of faces quite literally seen as culinary experts is directly connected to her view of food

Can there be anything on the internet WITHOUT injecting social justice talking points into it? What the fuck does the quality of food have to do with my skin color?

The best cook books out there right now as far as I'm concerned are Meera Sodha's. Veg-centric (one book is entirely vegetarian) Indian cooking that's well-explained and mostly very easy to do at home (and totally delicious).

Has anyone seen the documentary with the same name? It comes up on Netflix for me every time I load it. I'm pretty overwhelmed by the number of food documentaries out there, so this one didn't stand out for any reason.

It's a great documentary. She doesn't give specific recipes etc., but the way she explores the culture around the food is amazing. (Not as good as Bordain was, but I'm still very glad I watched it.) I loved the documentary, admittedly, I can't say I learned anything new, but I'm not a typical case.

I thought it was great. Very food-porny, but in a well done way. Only 4 episodes, so a very small investment if you get hooked.

I've been wanting to watch it since seeing it described as "a Marxist fantasy" in this essay: https://www.eater.com/2018/10/19/17995884/salt-fat-acid-heat...

FWIW a Marxist acquaintance denounced that review as anarcho-primitivist.

ha, love it!

I'll probably check this out sooner or later, but how is this compared to the Modernist Cuisine. I really love that series.

Luscious 4K HDR too

It's so hard to read articles for the lowest common denominator. This guy begins by saying he doesnt know what a bay leaf is. He continues that he's inspired by the message of SFAH that 'anyone can cook anything and make it yummms', which is a complete rubbish of a premise. In the bin this article goes like most of the atlantics writing.

Talking about cooking, western people really know what it is?

I take it you haven't spent considerable time in Italy?

This reads like every cookbook. Something about culture and connecting food to some other thing like nature, family, or the garden. There aren't many things you can do with food that haven't been done before.

When it comes to cooking, we are still in the stone age. When will we see a startup that stir up the food market !? It's a really huge market, and something that would truly make the world a better place. Just an crazy idea: Teleporting dishes. You scan in the food, then send it over the Internet to a molecular printer that re-creates it. Or if you are a pirate you download recipes from the web.

I recently had a nightmare about eating circuit boards while going down one of those dreadful 90s style 3d tunnel graphics demos.

Has tech gone too far??

Have you played Supaplex as a kid, by chance?


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