HHH038 How to Taste with Becky Selengut

Becky Selengut is my new food-person-crush because she has written my new favorite food book! How to Taste isn’t a cook book exactly, but it is definitely a food book. The book is organized into chapters about the six tastes (salt, acid, sweet, fat, bitter, umami) plus aromatics, bite, texture and “everything else”. With witty writing, serious research, taste experiments you can do at home, and a few choice recipes, each chapter is designed to help the reader figure out for themselves literally how to taste and thereby become a better cook.

In this interview, we laugh a lot and also cover the super powers of salt, the best way to smell stuff, how salt can even make things smell more, and theorize about why butter is better to prevent sticking. We commiserate about our anxious dogs and the annoying trend of restaurants denying us salt shakers at the table. Go buy Becky’s new book! Do it! You will love it! (She has also written several other books that are also fantastic, such as Good Fish!)

Find Becky Website | YouTube | Twitter | Classes | Books

Show Notes:

  • Super tasters, what are they?
  • Cooking for a super taster
  • The super powers of salt
  • Taste What You’re Missing by Barb Stuckey
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
  • Mm? vs Mmmmm
  • How spices can destroy a recipe (and how to fix it)
  • How to Taste class (Seattle)
  • Describing the “energy level” of flavors
  • A message to chefs: Pass the fucking salt!
  • Interplay of salt, bitter, acid
  • The Bloody Mary dilemma (my recipe!)
  • Fat as flavor
  • Crepes and eggs and butter and oils
  • Top Chef smell challenge
  • Test your smell literacy
  • Two ways to smell stuff
  • Retro-nasal breathing: try it!
  • Allicin allergy
  • Are garlic and onion powders a cop-out?
  • What’s the ultimate goal of a chef?
  • Flavorator 2000
  • Nuoc cham and ketchup


  1. Becky Selengut on April 18, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    It was a blast talking to you Hilah! And your bloody mary looks divine.

    • Hilah on April 18, 2018 at 4:35 pm

      Thanks, Becky! I’ll make you one whenever we meet 🙂

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