Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Salty Talk



Is it just me, or do others like a variety of salt flavors? Now I don’t mean salty pretzels, chips/crisps (for my readers over the pond), or even olives. Rather, I refer to the plethora of salts to choose from when salting your pasta water, bread dough, roasting meats, and the like. My kids think I’m loony because I have salts sitting around like others have herbs and spices (oh, I have those too, in abundance – and let’s not even get into the weeds, leaves, and pods bottled and ready to season the stew or pudding).

Let’s face it . . . I adore choices. Why have just table-salt when you can enjoy delicate French fleur de sel, Himalayan pink salt, course and gritty sea salt, specially blended seasoned salts, and so much more? (Actually, I must confess . . . I have no iodized table salt in the house. Sorry, little girl with an umbrella – you’re adorable as décor but deplorable as flavoring.)

So while I am boiling a big pot of water for pasta I sling in a handful of coarse sea salt as I trill along with a Puccini aria. Likewise, the folksy accordion tunes that fill the air as I slow cook a beef daube and bake crusty baguettes brings on the uncontrollable urge to dip into the corked bottle of fleur de sel, harvested from the misty shorelines of France, and sprinkle liberally.

Cooking . . . it’s more than a chore or even a hobby around here – it’s an ADVENTURE! Some of my best recipes came not from cookbooks, but from travel journals rich in detail of flavor and taste, or down-home novels rich in gravy and pies. My “FAMOUS” oven-friend chicken recipe came from a book I can’t even recall, wherein a feisty old South’ren Gal fooled everyone with her “fried chicken” – it was oven baked after being soaked in buttermilk and rolled in flour. I add a gingered season salt to the flour and spritz the dredged lot with oil before popping it into the oven to bake. I call it “Novel Chicken.” My family calls it DELICIOUS!

Now you might ask, does the seasoned-salt make a difference? Probably not, but then again it sure was more fun for the cook who sprinkled that gritty, zesty, ginger-perfumed additive whilst dancing to a hammered-dulcimer tune singing through the speakers. Let your tastebuds be the judge, but never, never compromise on the fun. Just as you wouldn’t have use for un-salty salt (see Matthew 5:13), a meal prepared without joy and fun would hamper the feasting. Serviceable gruel ladled with an institutional pallor into joyless orphans never nourishes the soul in any tale (just read Oliver); but even a simple piece of bread accompanied by a bowl of milk put forth in the most perfunctory manner warmed Heidi’s optimistic tummy and began melting the ice around Grandfather’s stony ticker. Was it the food or the joyful attitude that made it a feast? I’ll side with Heidi’s joy and chow down with a smile.

My kids have been raised on a diet of literary feasts and literal feasts. Every time we sit down together to eat we thank the Lord and pass the joy from one to another as we pass the food. We won’t be passing the salt shaker around the table, however, because I never put it on the table. I’m not selfish with my special salts, I just believe that salting is part of the preparation and should never, never cover over the dish’s flavor at the last minute. If you want to salt your own food around here you’ll just have to get on your dancing shoes and join me in the kitchen.

12 comments:

Becky said...

Hmmm... I must admit that I have never thought about requesting salt while dining in your home but I do use it freely in my own. The little darling with the umbrella is quite welcome but not as decor ;-)

I WILL be trying that chicken recipe. It does sound delicious!

Britt-Arnhild said...

Debbie, I knew it, we are SISTERS. Far apart but kindered spirits in soul.

Come to my kitchen and see my collection of salt? Come and cook with me, eat with me, praise the Lord with me.

Karen said...

I'm coming to your house for dinner.

imbeingheldhostage said...

I've just recently become interested in different salts... I think I some in in a magazine a few years back.
And I agree with the salting at the table thing-- it's enough to burn in your seat at my house with a stare from Mom (but I did just buy the most gorgeous salt grinder...)

imbeingheldhostage said...

I really wish I would read before I hit publish.

sukipoet said...

Interesting, Debbie. I stopped cooking w/ salt years ago. I only salt at the table. I do use sea salt and some herb laced salt. But i will look for some of these others. Sometimes, I wet my finger and pick up so sea salt to taste. Salt of life. But I know I'd love to taste your salty dishes, they sound divine.

Karen Deborah said...

oh lawdy, you got me salivating again for everything, the food, the music, and the FUN!!!!!!

noble pig said...

You know I would wear a salt lick like a rabbit if I could. And I love pink salt too, it's so girly.

Sharon said...

I had no idea there were so many varieties of salt!What a neat post!Love~Sharon

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

My SON ADORES salt - Has a LOVE LOVE LOVE of all salts! He would love this!!

LadiesoftheHouse said...

You, my dear, are a salt connoisseur! I was just reading about the different mineral content of salts and how some are very good for you and some shouldn't be used at all. Lovely post--thank you!

Theresa said...

I havent' used as many types of salt as you, but grew up with my Grandma having sea salt and we use "Real" Salt (the brand) and definitely notice a taste difference between that and the regular grocery store table salt.