Salt Fat Acid Heat and Design

As a fan of eating delicious things, my eyes and brain perked up when I read about Chef Samin Nosrat and her new cookbook entitled “Salt Fat Acid Heat.” In her book she describes this phenomenon as the perfect storm of tastes as achieved by the simple grilled cheese sandwich:

“Learn to balance them perfectly and you’ll learn to create the perfect meal. Take the grilled cheese: if the pan is too hot, the bread will burn without the cheese melting; too cold, and the sandwich will turn soggy. The butter on the bread is the best fat to marry with the heat for this result. The cheese on the inside provides the necessary saltiness to cut through the butter, and the pickles on the side provide the acidity needed to balance a rich meal.”

Subsequently, I shared the following question on Twitter and received some interesting responses:

“Salt Fat Acid Heat” as the perfect set of ingredients for a meal makes me wonder what a similar set of essential ingredients might be for digital products.

via Twitter

Three (now six) perspectives came back:


Four ingredients for design make for a recipe, but there needs to be a chef (or chefs) to catalyze the necessary reaction between all of them.

But Dezzie Garcia’s take is quite important in her referring to the Maillard Reaction — which is one of the key flavor-producing reactions in the culinary world.

“It’s not just the ingredients though, but how they react when put together. I’m not just being facetious, I’m serious! What’s the Maillard reaction for digital products?

via Twitter

What’s the takeaway? Design is about the ingredients, but it’s also about the way they all interact. And lastly, it’s about the chef (i.e. the human) that puts them all together so that a powerful experience can be delivered. Therefore, design is about … the designer. 


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