Saturday, December 15, 2007

What a Cook Wants, 15

4,000 Different Kinds of Salt
If you are not a cook or foodie, this will not make sense. You may think, Why would anyone need 15 different kinds of salt? Don't they all taste, well, salty? In a sense you'd be right. But then I'd respond, Are all home runs the same? Does each Steinway sound the same? Does each Bush presidency cause the same damage?
Of course not.
Let me show you, I'll get out my salts now... hmmm, Korean sea salt is smooth with a delicate flake. Trapani sea salt from Italy is intense and tough. Utah Lake Salt is mellow, pale pink and crunchy. Dead Sea salt from Israel is bright, kind of melts in the mouth, and should really call its mother. See what I mean? Sure, they're all salty, but there's so much nuance in the variations.
It becomes a game: what salt goes best on top of my crispy tilapia? Which should I rub into my Christmas roast? Which shade of grey or pink or black completes the still life painting on this plate? We grown-ups need to play more. And to be practical, it's one of a few ingredients that never goes bad.
$70 for Chef Stefan: Salts of the World sampler. It has 15 salts in cute little tins. I've had it for 3 years and there's plenty left. The exterior packaging is a little 80's, but it's still a super-fun present.

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