Sunday, March 25, 2012


I've always had a love-hate relationship with salt. I don't cook with it because too much is supposed to be bad for you. Plus, there is enough salt added to all New York restaurant dishes to corrode everyone's arteries. I throw salt over my shoulder if I spill it because mum scared me once when I was little, by sharing the old wives tale about bad luck following me. And of course, every day in the news is a segment about how our kids are getting obese and diabetic and everything else because of the absurd amounts of salt and sugar added to all processed food.

But then think of all the wonderful things in our lives with salt. There's nothing better than the feel of salt water on your skin. And how many hair products have tried to replicate what salt water does to your hair! It's brilliant for sinuses when used in a neti pot. and the smell of salty sweat on the man you love is also pretty fabulous. Thrown directly on a red wine stain, it virtually eliminates it from your tablecloth. And we all take salt baths when our muscles are aching.

So it was with great interest that I stumbled upon a little store in the West Village that specializes in salt. Called The Meadow, it is the most gorgeous store, with shelves stacked with salt reaching up to the roof.

Who knew there were so many kinds of salt and in so many different colors! Here you can find granules, flakes and blocks of salt from places as far flung as Japan, Bolivia and the Himalayas.  There's sea salt, volcanic salt and Antarctic salt. Some are infused with truffles or saffron. The shade palette ranges from the whitest of white through pink, orange, grey and black. And they all differ in use: finishing salt, grinder salt, curing salt and cooking salt. It is really quite wondrous. For the beginner, you can buy salt sets; six gourmet salts packed in little tins to get you excited about the incredible versatility of this amazing mineral. They almost look too good to use!

The store also sells all manner of salt accoutrement's that help the serving of the salt look so much more beautiful. From salt bowls to cellars, teeny silver spoons and different types of grinders.

After browsing in the store for 15 minutes, I discovered a new-found love and admiration for salt. So much so, I bought this lovely book written by the 'selmelier' and owner of The Meadow, Mark Bitterman. It takes you through the history of salt before explaining 150 different salts, and is full of wonderful images of salt in its purest from around the world.

And for those who become passionate about this subject, don't forget Mark Kurlansky's book, simply called 'Salt'. It maintains that wars were fought over this precious mineral, trade routes established and empires secured. Riveting stuff. And all this interest in a much mal-aligned foodstuff! Perhaps we should all have another think.

images: all posters, (2-3) salt news, (4) NY racked, (5-7) at the meadow (8) amazon

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