Samin Nosrat on Netflix's 'Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat,' the Iran Episode That Almost Happened, and What's Next

Samin Nosrat, chef and author of the "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" cookbook, takes her food expertise to the road for her brand new Netflix show of the same name. After traveling to Japan, Italy, Mexico, and back to the U.S. to learn more about the four elements of great cooking, she sat down with Rachael Ray Every Day to talk about the first season of the show, how it came together, and what's next.
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Buy it: Samin Nosrat's Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat cookbook on Amazon ($21)

Rachael Ray Every Day: The book's title is Salt, Fat, Acid, and Heat, so why is the show's first episode about Fat?

Samin Nosrat: “That was a Netflix choice. At first I was like, ‘This is upsetting, why are we putting number two as number one?’ But they know what viewers want to watch, so they were like, ‘we’re not gonna change the order of the title, we’re just gonna put Italy [and learning about cooking with fat] first,’ because it is the most luscious one. Italy was the most familiar to people. I think they felt it was the most appropriate gateway into the show. It was one of those things where I was like, ‘I don’t like this but I’m not gonna fight it.’ And now I’m really happy that Italy’s first because I think each episode is different. All together they make a really nice thing, but they’re just different. They have different looks and different feels.”

RRED: And you speak Italian.

SN: “I lived there for two years when I was 22 and 24, and I’m 38 now, so I hadn’t been back in 13 years. And I couldn’t believe that I remembered that much. I have friends that come from Italy, so I’ll speak to them at lunch sometimes in Italian, but I couldn’t believe how much came back to me. To a non-Italian I definitely sound good!" 

RRED: How did you decide which locations would be use for each element?

SN: "It’s a lot like making a magazine, I would imagine. The show is a living thing. It’s a living organism. Once you figure out one piece you can build other pieces around that. Things moved around a bit, but in my mind, from the beginning, Japan was always salt and Italy was always fat. Acid is Mexico, but that was actually originally going to be Iran, because my family’s from Iran, and there are lots of acidic ingredients in the cuisine. We were like two days from going, and the the state department withdrew its recommendation. So we had to hustle, because we had planned on Iran for like six weeks."

RRED: Was that heartbreaking for you?

SN: "It was and it wasn’t. I was ultimately the one who was like, ‘I don’t think we should risk this,' because I would never have forgiven myself if anything had happened. By then we had shot two episodes and I had seen that it’s, like, three trucks, 25 people, and one bajillion dollars of equipment. So we were a pretty conspicuous group. It made sense to not go, and it made sense for me to gain some more experience and understand filmmaking a little better. And I would very much like to go at some point because… Westerners don’t really get a glimpse [of Iran]. There’s very little imagery of the beauty of Iran. That kind of made me excited, that I could bring imagery to the West. We spent six weeks [working on] Iran, and we had to throw that out the window, and we had three weeks to make [the Mexico episode] happen. But that was so cool because I had never been to the Yucatan [where we filmed], so it was really cool to get to see it and understand that Mexico has so many different cuisines."

RRED: And you ate raw lardo (pig fat) in Italy?

SN: "I’m surprisingly squeamish. There were so many foods that made me feel uncomfortable. But the lardo was not something that gave me the willies. I think in the episode this got cut—you don’t see me eating it—[but another time] we tried these really special live shrimp. There was footage of me eating it. I was like, ‘How do I do this? How do I eat this?’ It was like 9 o’clock in the morning, I was like, ‘Am I gonna feel this crawling down my throat?’ I did get it down, but it definitely brought tears to my eyes and I was like, ‘I gotta go,’ and I ran behind the production truck in case I needed to have a gag moment."

RRED: What’s next? Does Netflix have another round of episodes planned?

SN: "I feel like this, in some ways, could go on forever because this idea is so universal and it could go anywhere. But also, it took a lot of years to write this book, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. It took a lot of years to make the show because we were talking about it for a long time. So my creative juices are tapped in some ways. I need to take a break. I want to see the show land, I want to see how it’s received. I want to see what resonates with people, and I want that to help determine what to do next."

RRED: I did notice when I turned Netflix on, your show is right up top!

SN: "It’s really funny because all along I’ve been like, I need to get an email from Netflix one day saying ‘We have a show that you might like,’ and it’ll be my own show! And then yesterday all my friends were posting pictures of the email, but Netflix didn’t send it to me! I didn’t get an email for my own show! I was like, ‘you don’t think that I’ll like it?’"

Watch the trailer for Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: 

Buy it: Samin Nosrat's Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat cookbook on Amazon ($21)

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