Salt

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ instructs to keep heart in the face of oppression and persecution because believers and their suffering are precious (as salt) in the eyes of God. Salt is a good metaphor. Not only does salt add flavor, but like clean air, water, food, and shelter from the elements — in some way ALL living things NEED salt  to live. At one point, salt was considered precious enough to be used as currency by some peoples, hence “worth your weight in salt”. It’s interesting to think about….salt and the Beatitudes….especially while considering American Civil Rights on Martin Luther King Day in Oakland, CA, USA.

Walking about Oakland on MLK Day 2016 with hubby, Omar, we wandered into Oaktown Spice Shop on Grand. They have a wide selection of culinary herbs, spices, seasonings, condiments and SALT. I picked up a few to play with in my kitchen…

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Each salt has it’s own character based on where, how, and when it is formed or otherwise produced. Tiny things can make HUGE differences. Variance in trace mineral concentrations equates to a huge range in flavor and appearance.

20160118_171351_001Fleur de Sel is a “finishing” salt. This means that you don’t mix it in and let it dissolve in your soup, or use it to salt your pasta water. This is something you pinch and sprinkle just before eating or while still hot. The flavor is bold and punchy like digging clams in New England salt-air before sun-up and the tide changes. It makes me nostalgic for Philly and a big chewy soft pretzel washed down with a seltzer…or want to bake some fresh rolls and sprinkle the tops. It makes me crave a chewy-gooey carmel apple….or a bowl of fresh pop corn drizzled lightly with truffle oil. AND…It’s from France! I’ve never been to France, but when I think of France I think THIS must be what France tastes like minus the D-Day fallen US Soldiers at Normandy. Always complex and refined without the bitter after taste of gall and bloody sacrifice. – Tu es le sel de la terra; mais si le sel perd sa saveur, comment pet-elle etre  faite t-on?

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20160118_171356I Love Himalayan Pink Salt. Come on! It’s PINK! And it tastes like it is healing me of something when I eat it. Did you know Himalayan Salt is anti-microbal? I just read that. No wonder it tastes so “clean” to me. I cook with this salt a lot. It best brings out the flavors of food without being too “salty”. I particularly like Himalayan salt for pasta and baking. It blends well into pasta dough and/or with sugar for cakes that are never ‘flat’. I wonder if Global Warming will ever put the Himalayas under water again. – तपाईं पृथ्वीको नुन छन् ; यो नुन स्वाद नभएको भएको छ भने तर , कसरी यो फेरि नूनिलो गर्न सकिन्छ ?

20160118_171402Speaking of prehistoric fish — What do dinosaurs taste like? When I was an animal-eater I used to wonder sometimes. For a while when I was a kid I wanted to be a paleontologist…then I saw Indiana Jones and I wanted to be an archeologist. When it came to getting my college degree I ended up a Crafts major concentrating in metal fabrication techniques. So…I guess I ended up going to school to learn how to make artifacts and set stones and fossils. Anyway…this salt is mined in Utah and dates back to the Jurassic Era – as in Jurassic Park – as in DINOSAURS! So THIS MUST be what dinosaurs taste like. What? I hear you asking.Well… A human body is made up of about 40 tsp of sodium chloride, or table salt. If an average American woman weighs 166 lbs., assuming ratio of salt to mass is similar in all animals – AND if the average Spinosaurus weighed 13,600 lbs., THEN…the average Spino would have been made up of around 3,277 tsp of salt. That’s just over 68 cups of salt per Spinosaurus. What am I talking about? Well, have you ever been to the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, CA? The Cathedral is unique because it has one of the only mausoleums housed IN a Catholic church in North America. It’s in the basement. I used to attend services and sing at the Cathedral often. Anyway…in the Cathedral’s underground garage the walls shared with the basement mausoleum sometimes “weep” a red/brown/gold ooze with white salty-looking crusties. (I never tasted it but it sure looked like salt.) The weeping spots correspond with “occupied” vaults in the mausoleum on the other side of the wall. So…I concluded the ooze is the juice of decomposing people and the crusties are the salt content from the bodies. Matter/Mass never goes away. It only changes form. So, as bodies decompose they release and deposit salt. That good-ole Salt Lake was at one time a Salt Sea filled with Spinosauruses and other Jurassic critters. So, this Jurassic Era Salt from Utah MUST taste like dinosaurs. It’s good. Not as “sweet” as the Himalayan salt, but a good-all-around-for-everything salt. Who knows…in Utah in a couple eras they’ll probably mine salt that tastes like Mormons. Nah…I’m just kidding. I’d never eat a Mormon. I’m vegetarian. But I wonder what sister-wives think of Utah’s Jurassic Era salt and if they are allowed to talk about it in schoolrooms to their children. – You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again?

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20160118_171405 Cyprus Black Lava Flake Salt — First I want to acknowledge that Black Salt Matters, AND assure you I did not buy this salt based on the color of it’s surface but on the content of it’s character. Seriously…this salt is really interesting. This salt is produced in Cyprus. It is shaped like pyramids and is infused with charcoal. You’d expect it to be smokey but it’s not. It tastes earthy and the texture is like some packaged snack. I want to grab a palm-full and chomp on these little treasures. If you mix this salt in with something wet like a sauce or soup be warned the charcoal content will affect the over all color of your dish, so it might not be the best idea. This salt is great paired as a garnish for fresh green onions or to top an exotic slaw…OR work it into a pastry. I did just that when I made a veggie pot-pie the other night. I used this salt in my pastry dough. What a wonderful surprise to have a burst of bright yet earthy salt in a flaky pastry crust. It really made the greens under the pastry pop. This salt is supposed to also be good for detox baths. Why not? I like taking salt baths and charcoal is great for keeping the skin clear. – Sen dünyanın tuzu vardır ; Tuz tatsız hale gelmiştir ama eğer , nasıl tekrar tuzlu yapılabilir ?

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20160118_171408This Cherrywood Smoked Salt was the wild-card in my purchase. This is human-made/treated salt. True to it’s name it was smokey…and delicious. As a former meat eater I acknowledge this as one-hell-of-a salt for BBQ. This would be killer in chili or rubbed on pork, chicken, steaks and crustaceans. It would also be AMAZING in stewed greens of any kind, especially vegetarian greens. You can still get the smoke and salt flavor of the meat without the meat part. But this salt has another, much more extra-curricular, application. THIS salt is just aching to be paired with whiskey, bourbon, and/or scotch drinks. This would be amazing on the rim of a Smoking Gun. – Se sèl nou ye pou moun sou latè a; men si sèl la te vin ni gou, ki jan yo kapab l ‘tounen sale ankò?

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Well…if you live in Oakland and are looking for salt, you now know where to find it. If you’re looking for consolation I direct you to Boethius. All I have to offer you is my honest experience. Peace be with you. Seriously.

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*Excerpts in French, Nepali, Turkish, and Haitian in this article were translated using Google Translate.

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