Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat

Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking

I keep dozens of cookbooks, but they serve different purposes: many are essentially picture books—lovely to look at but with recipes or methods much too complicated for me to bother with; others tell wonderful stories, but feature food I’m not generally inclined to; still others have recipes I have come to love and revisit often. But my favorite cookbooks are the ones where I learn not particular recipes, but rather methods, patterns, or strategies for cooking. Among those, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is my new favorite. Novice cooks will find this book does what it promises: teaches you how to cook well. But as an experienced (if amateur) cook myself, I also found a useful framework for thinking about my own cooking, not to mention a few new best practices. An added plus: Wendy MacNaughton’s illustrations are completely delightful.