Salt as Currency
Salt: “a substance so valuable it served as a currency, has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires and inspired revolutions.” So explains author and food historian Mark Kurlansky in his consummate book on the subject, succinctly titled “Salt.”
What explains salt’s culturally critical importance? The answer lies in its ability to not only enhance flavors but more importantly to preserve perishable foods. Before advances in technology, science, and manufacturing, there were few avenues available to keep foods from spoiling. Nations who laid claim to abundant salt deposits flourished, and those who didn’t paid homage.
Enhancing Flavor in Cooking
As fascinating as this rich history is, salt continues to be a staple of the kitchen. What I love best about it is what it does to heighten the flavor of a crisp spring radish or a perfectly ripe tomato. It is a staple to any great kitchen, for it has the ability to bring depth of flavor to countless dishes. I have been known to use some type of salt in every course of a meal. Its value comes to fruition when sprinkling a truffle scented variety on top of creamy Burrata. It then just as easily delights as a dessert capstone of sea salt caramels.
My pantry includes salts from around the world. These include pink salt from the Murray River in Australia or the Himalayas. They span grey fleur du sel from the Geurande in France or Wales to delicate white variety from Bali or Maldon. In Spain or Italy, salt makers marry it with peppers or truffles to develop a deep, rich flavor. Or it is smoked with every type of wood smoke imaginable, one of my favorites being Alderwood.
We will travel the world on salt’s back, appreciating it in all its diversity through my full array of cooking classes. Come join the journey!