Bon Appetit - Just Plain Good Food
Unexpected Surprises & Salt
By Tammera Karr, PhD
My life does not transport me into the Metropolitan world much, however every once in a while I journey to the hustle and bustle of a city. I was recently in Portland Oregon, my states largest metropolitan area, and for a change I had time to explore; a large gap in my commitments schedule for the day, allowed for an unexpected surprise.
I was walking along Mississippi Street, exploring small artisan, specialty shops and restaurants when I spied “The Meadow” (www.themeadow.net) under the sign it read – Salt – Chocolate – Drink – Flowers….. My mouth begins to salivate whenever I think, read, write or talk about salt, I have craved salt as long as I can remember and have gone to great lengths as a ranch kid to get my salt fix. I remember hot summer days setting in an apple tree with the kitchen salt shaker in-hand eating green apples, and the taste of warm rhubarb stalks and carrots dipped in salt….. So of course, across the street I went to see if I had found my dream shop.
As I approached the neatly arranged flowers, planter boxes with herbs and displays in the window caused a tickle of anticipation. As I stepped through the doors, I looked about hurriedly for a napkin as I was quickly turning into Pavlov’s dog. Not just a shelf of a variety of commercial salts greeted me but a mountain of Himalayan salt cooking blocks of every imaginable size, and 12’ floor to ceiling walls loaded with perfect glass jars of salt from around the world.
Oh and there was other non-important stuff like flowers, chocolate and wine too.
Mark Bitterman and his family have created a wonderful shop on this once industrial street of Portland. Mark is the author of – Salted, A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes; a book, I am delighted to add to my collection, and is a must own for a Holistic Nutritionist, Foodie’s, Chef’s, Thyroid and Adrenal Fatigue client who knows life simply doesn’t work right without salt.
In the Pacific Northwest, we have an ever-growing “Food” movement, it may have started with coffee and MicroBrews, but man cannot live on these beverages alone and they taste soooo much better when paired with the right foods and yes – Salt.
Salt has the unique ability to connect the world like no other mineral, ingredient, or food. Man like animals have a need for salt to survive, it creates energy for the heart to beat correctly, the thyroid, liver and stomach to function and the brain as well. But the salt we think of is far from what was consumed around the world – Morton and the industrialized salt manufacturing of the USA is a far cry from the salt mines in Asia, Europe, and Brittany France.
Throughout Europe, small communities know the name of the man or family who raised the beef, potatoes and vegetable’s, bread, wine, cheese and salt you are eating. They have a connection; they are community, family and shared cultural history. With this is the return of local or artisan salt. Natural salt comes in a variety of colors, flavors and crystal characteristics. Some are perfectly suited for confectionery masterpieces like fleur de sel caramels. These salted caramels originated in Brittany France, due to the availability of the artisan-made salts in the region.
In the USA, we have as a general rule three varieties of salt, made much the same way; as Mark Bitterman so aptly puts it in his book; “Some things do not belong in our food supply. Industrial salts like cheap sea salt, kosher salt, and table salt are products that few people want in their kitchens if they understand and face up to how they are made.”
Maybe our decline in home cooking and our dependence on commercial foods has corrupted out sense of taste? I know I can clearly taste the differences in salts, am I an expert – No, but I also know the value of real salt for our health. If we are enjoying the fresh abundance of produce from CSA’s, home and community gardens and farmers markets, we already understand how much better local fresh foods taste over limp lifeless store versions. So why wouldn’t we want to use natural salts to make those flavors pop and zing even more?
I’m off to buy a salt block to try some of these grilled steak recipes out on…. Now we are talking summer!
To Your Good Health, Real foods.
To read more on how America has lost touch with real food order your copy of “Our Journey with Food”, by Tammera J. Karr, PhD on this website Available fall of 2014.