If you’ve browsed your local bookstore’s cookbook section lately, you’ll likely find hardbound books filled with beautiful photos of exquisite dishes. They’re fun to look at, but these close-ups of perfectly plated food can be intimidating. As most home cooks can attest, dinners rarely come out as appealing as those on the glossy pages of cookbooks.
When Samin Nosrat, a former Chez Panisse chef who taught Michael Pollan how to cook, decided to write her book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, she deliberately chose not to include photos. On our most recent episode of Bite, we talked to Samin about her book’s illustrations, drawn by artist Wendy MacNaughton.
“I wanted to create this universal idea for people,” Nosrat said. “As much as I love food photography, it is deeply stylized. You create this magical fake world of sets and props and lighting and perfectly cooked food and in some ways it’s a little disingenuous.” Drawings and handwritten notes on everything from clam sauce to whipped egg whites color the pages of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.
Here’s a sampling of some of the great illustrations, and advice, throughout the book: