Finally, a Cookbook Without Annoyingly Perfect Photos

This cookbook gets you.

illustration by Wendy MacNaughton

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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:

 

 
 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 

Wendy MacNaughton

Wendy MacNaughton

Wendy MacNaughton

 

 
 

 

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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