Whooee, the heat. Here at our house, the fans have been running nonstop, but they didn’t seem to be making much of a dent. We have retreated to the basement. It’s not a finished basement, it’s not a pretty basement, but it is clean and dry and cool. That’s enough.

To enhance our subterranean experience, we brought home the art studio projector, plugged it into the laptop computer, wired in some speakers, and nailed an old window blind to the wall for a screen. Add some camp chairs and a cheap throw rug and – voila: The finest in home entertainment.

This has sparked a mini-marathon of viewing. In the lineup: “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking.” OK, I realize I am late in the game to discovering this show. I’ve been hearing about it for a long time, and I bet you already know all about it, but sometimes I am slow to these things. The point is I finally saw it and – wow.

On the chance that you, too, are slow to these things and have yet to see it yourself, I’ll summarize. It is a cooking show, yes, but it is so very much more than that. This is a highly produced, beautifully shot, global exploration of food and the basic elements of food itself. Emphasis on global.

Through the show, host and writer Samin Nosrat has taken me to Italy, Japan, and the Yucatan region of Mexico. I’ve learned that in Japan there are 4,000 varieties of salt. I’ve learned that olive oil is far more complex than I knew (local business Fiore has benefited from my newfound knowledge) and that citrus makes for a really intriguing acid bath.

All of this in glorious, colorful explorations of the cuisine, the region and the cultures that reside there, and always with deliberate and mindful references to the host’s perspective as an American of Iranian descent.


This is one of the show’s genuine strokes of genius.

Through this show, Nosrat is living the call to “be the change,” enacting a global shift in perspective through full embodiment of best self. There is nothing new or groundbreaking about the concept of creating global change by focusing on your own self. Central to many Buddhist texts, prime talking point of Gandhi, I know this idea to be valid. Heck, even Tolstoy (not kidding) once said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

And yet, in the face of kids in cages, escalating hate crimes, and rampant racism, it often feels like a giant cop-out. Not enough.

Nosrat has renewed my faith. Her work is an embodiment of her all-consuming joy and passion for food and its power to build connections. She is being fully, completely herself, and I fail to see how anyone could watch even one episode and not begin to appreciate how beautiful and enriching other cultures are, and how much we in America have gained from welcoming people from other nations.

Nosrat is “being” the change.

Obviously, this show hasn’t prevented today’s atrocities. However, in her work, I see the blueprint. More of this, please. More authentic self-actualization, more celebration of our best. More kindness, more welcome, more curiosity and willingness to accept the unfamiliar.

What a joyful future we can have.

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