As nationwide quarantine stretches into its second month, many of us have become surprisingly capable home cooks, and many of us are sick and tired of cooking. Samin Nosrat is here to guide us all. A New York Times food columnist and the host of Netflix’s hit series Salt Fat Acid Heat, which is based on her 2017 cookbook of the same name, Nosrat is a celebrated teacher: Her enthusiasm is infectious, and her advice is practical and down-to-earth, never highfalutin’. As the country entered lockdown in March, she and her friend Hrishikesh Hirway created a bright, funny, and indispensable new podcast, Home Cooking, to take all manner of listener questions about preparing meals in our new reality.
Zooming from her home in Berkeley, California, Nosrat sat down with Rolling Stone entertainment editor Maria Fontoura to talk about her own experience cooking in isolation (turns out she’s as bored of her own food as you are of yours); the oddest question she’s received on her podcast (it involves an inexperienced cook and a whole octopus); her concerns for the future of the restaurant industry (where she sharpened her skills for many years); and her weeks-long quest to craft the ideal lasagna recipe, which she delivered to tens of thousands of fans during an Instagram Live cooking session on May 3rd in partnership with the Times.
“My friend was like, ‘I’m going to make you a shirt that says, ‘I survived the pandemic and all I got was a lasagna!'” Nosrat says, laughing.
She also talks about coping with depression and letting go of the pressure to produce career-defining work during the lockdown. “I’ve really been feeling like, ‘Oh, man, I have not been this creative force,'” she admits. “I have not been writing the beautiful stuff, or thinking, or planning. It’s just felt very lonely and boring and one-note. Like, I’m just sort of carrying on.” But, she realized, “The hard stuff is where the beautiful stuff comes from, and it’s OK if I didn’t figure it out right now.”
The interview is the latest installment of Rolling Stone‘s new video series, RS Interview: Special Edition, featuring in-depth conversations with notable figures in music, entertainment, and politics, such as Roger Waters, Nick Offerman, and Kamala Harris. New episodes premiere every Thursday afternoon on Rolling Stone‘s YouTube channel.