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Not My Job: Samin Nosrat Plays Our Game, 'Crosby, Stills, Nash, Acid, Heat'


We're doing a lot of cooking at home these days, learning interesting and exotic techniques for opening cans of Beefaroni.

BILL KURTIS: I like to do it the way mom used to do it - with a machete and a wild look in her eye.

SAGAL: To up our game a bit, we checked in with Samin Nosrat, the chef and cookbook author famous for "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat."


SAMIN NOSRAT: Thank you for having me. I'm so excited.

SAGAL: Oh, we're very excited to have you. I was amazed to find this out, but you did not - you were not one of those people who grew up cooking and wanting to be a chef or a cookbook person at all, right?

NOSRAT: No, not at all. I grew up eating.


SAGAL: Well, yes. Well, that is good practice.

NOSRAT: I always loved to eat, and that was definitely my entry into the kitchen.

SAGAL: Well, I do, too, except I don't have a Netflix special about international cuisine.


SAGAL: So you - as we know from watching your Netflix special, among other things - have traveled the world to taste and learn about the finest cuisines around the globe. Now you're stuck in your house with the rest of us. How's it going?

NOSRAT: I mean, I actually really like constraint, and I think it makes us more creative. Well, yesterday, I had two slices of bread with butter and honey for dinner (laughter).

HELEN HONG: Yay, you're one of us. You're one of us.


NOSRAT: While I was running around the garden chasing my dog. Like, I didn't even sit down.


SAGAL: One of the things I always assume about, like, food celebrities like yourself is that when you entertain, you have to impress because it's like, Samin Nosrat. She's going to make an amazing meal for us. But since you're eating by yourself, I presume, do you let that go and just, like, make all the crappy things that you've always, like, really wanted to make, like homemade SpaghettiOs or whatever it may be?

NOSRAT: Well, I mean, I sort of burnt out on trying to impress people a long time ago. So one delicious thing I had last week was a box of Annie's white cheddar and shells mac and cheese with frozen peas, which sit perfectly in the shell, you know? They just, like, nestle perfectly.

SAGAL: Oh, wait a minute.

HONG: Wow.

SAGAL: So you made Annie - you made boxed mac and cheese. Annie's is basically - you know?

NOSRAT: It's - yeah. It's...

SAGAL: It's like - it's Kraft that went to Harvard.


HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: And you made it, and then you put in frozen peas.

NOSRAT: Like, at the end, you know? They weren't frozen...

SAGAL: Sure.

NOSRAT: ...When I was eating them.

SAGAL: Yes, a little garnish.

JOSH GONDELMAN: (Laughter) That might be the saddest thing, just cold peas.

HONG: (Laughter).

SAGAL: And you were like, oh, my God, the pea fits exactly into the little semicircular pasta thing.

NOSRAT: Totally. And then I put, like, this stuff called chili crisp, which is like a Szechuan chili oil that's super crispy and garlicy and yummy, on top. So, I mean, it was - you know, the whole thing took eight minutes, but it was so delicious. But I also would be really happy to serve that to anyone, except I also really like eating the whole thing myself, so (laughter)...

SAGAL: There is that. Hey, one of the things we noticed watching your show on Netflix is you have these amazing emotional reactions to food. You'll laugh, or you'll almost cry something's so delicious.


SAGAL: Is - I assume that's how you really are. You're not putting that on for the camera.

NOSRAT: Oh, yeah. I don't know how to act. I'm a terrible actor (laughter).

SAGAL: Right. Do you react like that to anything else in real life?

NOSRAT: Almost everything, actually. I feel like - oh, my friend had a magician - like, a really talented magician at his birthday party last year. And we were all gathered around the dining room table. And I just - I feel like I'm a magician's dream audience member because I'm so, so gullible and so emotive (laughter). So I'm, like, what?


NOSRAT: Wow. How did you do that?


GONDELMAN: The magician's like, are you making fun of me?


NOSRAT: No, but it's really my genuine - like, really, really my thing. I just have big responses to stuff. I'm not - I may not be the favorite person you want in the movie theater with you (laughter).

SAGAL: Right. I'll keep that in mind. Well, Samin Nosrat, since you're famous for "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat," we thought we'd ask you to play a game we're calling...

KURTIS: Crosby, Stills, Nash, Acid and Heat.


SAGAL: That's right. That's right. We're going to ask you three questions about Woodstock, the famous music festival. Answer 2 out of 3 questions right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who is Samin Nosrat playing for?

KURTIS: Rose vonHatten of Florissant, Mo.

SAGAL: All right. You ready to play?

NOSRAT: Oh, my gosh. That is best name and the best town name.

SAGAL: It is.

NOSRAT: And, Rose, I really hope I don't let you down.

SAGAL: All right. I should ask - how are you at, like, playing games under pressure? Do you...

NOSRAT: I'm terrible (laughter).

SAGAL: Well, that should be fine. Let's see what...

NOSRAT: I don't know that - I'm, like, deep down incredibly competitive. But I don't want to come off as competitive, so I usually just fail at everything.

SAGAL: Right.

GONDELMAN: You're speaking my language.

SAGAL: Well, that is a solution if you're worried about beating people. All right. Here's your first question. Once the organizers signed the band Creedence Clearwater Revival for the festival, other big acts started signing up, too. But Creedence ended up regretting their involvement in Woodstock. Why? Was it, A, they were the ones who tried out the famous brown acid...

NOSRAT: (Laughter).

SAGAL: ...B, they were introduced from the stage as Credential Clearasil Revulsion; or C, their performance slot was 3 a.m.?


SAGAL: You're exactly right.



SAGAL: In addition to having to go on at 3 a.m., John Fogerty, the leader of the band, refused to let themselves be filmed for the movie, which is why nobody even remembers they were there.

NOSRAT: Oh, my...

SAGAL: Yeah.

GONDELMAN: I like that there was a band at Woodstock who didn't want to stay up late.

SAGAL: (Laughter).

TOM BODETT: I thought that would be prime time at that.

SAGAL: You'd think.

GONDELMAN: Yeah. Look - free love and drugs, but I got a thing in the morning, so can we wrap this up by, like, 11?


SAGAL: Here is your next question. The band Iron Butterfly did not perform at Woodstock, as they were stuck at LaGuardia. They sent a telegram requesting that the festival send helicopters to take them up and back. How did the production coordinator at Woodstock respond to them? Did he, A, send them tickets for a plane flight to Ontario and four parachutes so they could jump out on the way; B, he sent a telegram back, where the first letters of each line spelled out F, U; or, C, he called the band's manager from the stage, held out the phone and said this is what a band who arrives on time sounds like?

NOSRAT: I'm going to go with C, again.

SAGAL: You're going to go with C, that he said, this is what...

NOSRAT: That's what I want it to be.

SAGAL: It's often wise to go with what you want to be true in life and in this game. But in this case, it was, in fact, B. He sent back a telegram. That's why Iron Butterfly wasn't around at Woodstock. All right.

BODETT: We were spared "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" one more time.

NOSRAT: Where are you learning this information from?

SAGAL: Oh, I - there's a lot of oral histories of Woodstock out there.

NOSRAT: That's amazing.

SAGAL: It was a memorable event. And, of course, if you actually - if you can remember it, you weren't there. All right. Here is your last question. If you get this, Samin, you win, so no worries. Here we go.

Woodstock was a huge mass of people with insufficient security and facilities, but there wasn't any violence at all, except for one incident. What happened? A, two people very high on LSD had a sword fight with imaginary swords, leading to the loser insisting he was dead for an entire day; B, Pete Townshend of The Who hit Abbie Hoffman on the head with his guitar when Hoffman jumped on stage; or C, eight people fought over a single roll of toilet paper, leading to some serious paper cuts?

NOSRAT: I really again want it to be A, so I'm going to go with A.

SAGAL: You're just going to - idea of, like, two people totally high on LSD having a sword fight (vocalizing), and one of them goes stab, the other one goes, ah, I am slain, for like a day. That's what you think happened.


NOSRAT: OK, fine. OK, fine.



SAGAL: Yes, it was B.


SAGAL: Pete Townshend hit Abbie Hoffman over the head with his guitar. And as far as anybody knows, that was the only physical confrontation at Woodstock.

NOSRAT: Oh, my gosh.

HONG: Wow.

SAGAL: Bill, how did Samin Nosrat do on our quiz?

KURTIS: Two out of 3 right - I call that a delicious win.


SAGAL: Samin Nosrat is the author of "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat," and her new podcast is called "Home Cooking."

Samin Nosrat, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT... DON'T TELL ME.

NOSRAT: Thanks so much for having me, you guys. You're so fun.

SAGAL: Thank you. Take care.

BODETT: Take care, Samin.

NOSRAT: Take care.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.