Maureen: Or, as we continued to call it throughout the month: “Blah, blah, blah, blah.”
Kirstin: I can never remember the complete order of the words.
Maureen: Me neither, but I don’t think that’s important. It was a different type of cookbook for us since the whole first half of the book was taken up by explanations and essays. I dipped in and out of the beginning section, but I’ve got to admit I haven’t read the whole thing yet. Have you?
Maureen: Do you think you’ll read it?
Kirstin: I might do. Knowing that the recipes are good, I might go back and read it now.
Maureen: That makes sense. You’d want to know what she was talking about. I do think this book made me a thoughtful cook.
Kirstin: Give me an example
Maureen: Well, one night I was making what she called “Conveyer Belt Chicken.” Sorry. I didn’t post it. But I did think more about what would be good with it than I would ordinarily. So I also made her salsa verde to go with it. Both were delicious.
Kirstin: Interesting. I thought this book was more like the Zuni cookbook. It was very precise instructions, but they were beautifully written. I love the bit, “Salt the water until it tastes like the sea on a summer’s day.” It’s not only what it tastes like, but what it feels like, and i completely get that. Or fry the garlic until you can just start to smell it. That’s a perfect way of describing it.
Maureen: Sometimes I thought the book was overly complicated, but then having followed the recipe, I could see why it was that way. The food was delicious.
Kirstin: But let’s get down to the whole reason we picked this book in the first place. Is it better than Melissa Clark’s “Dinner”, which we loved but Food52 declared this one better in its annual tournament of cookbooks The Piglet? [Funnily enough, we just realised we did that book exactly a year ago.]
Maureen: [After a thoughtful pause.] Oh, geez, I don’t know. It’s sort of like comparing apples and oranges. Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat Apples has incredibly helpful tips and good recipes. It’s a great resource. I can see returning to it time and time again. “Dinner” was more like the books we traditionally review, which has nice photographs and about 100+ recipes. It has great recipes that I still use now. But is it as good a resource? No. So I’m going to say both, which I know is a total cheat, but there you are.
Kirstin: Today, I was trying to figure out what to make for dinner over the weekend and I thought of the recipe for Korean beef, it put an instant smile on my face. So for me, “Dinner” for win. As much as I love the illustrations in “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat,” I really like having pictures. Particuarly when you’re learning how to cook.
Maureen: But would “Dinner” be a Desert Island Book for you? It’s still early days, but “Salt, Blah, Blah, Blah” would edge out dinner for me in that category.
Kirstin: Desert island book? Ooh, good question. If I was on a desert island, I might have the time to read the introduction. It’s an amazing book and I’ll definitely be cooking a lot from it in the future. But I don’t know the answer to that question yet.
Maureen: This is definitely a book that demands more of your time.
Kirstin: It’s one of those books you have to learn how to use.
Maureen: Which is no bad thing, but still.
“Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat”
Overall Grade (A- F): A (Maureen) A (Kirstin)
Best recipes: Maureen: The out-of-this-world Ragu Sauce. Yum. Kirstin: The pork. The pork. The pork.
Grade for Photography (A-F): N/A. It’s an illustrated book. A for illustrations, though.
Any disasters? Nope.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Definitely bookshelf. Maureen: For sure, bookshelf. Would You Give This Book to a Friend?: Maureen: Yes. Kirstin: I’m not sure. I’d give it to a certain type of cook. Everyone else got “Dinner.”