I am being seduced by salt. My friend gave me a bottle of coarse crystal sea salt from France earlier this month, and since then I keep it beside me at all times. If I could insert a few precious grains into a locket and wear it close to my heart, I’d probably do that too.
No one understands my fascination with salt, and frankly, neither can I. When I asked my mom to grab some tomatoes for me from the Baguio market, she couldn’t believe that I was planning to just eat them straight up sprinkled with some salt. My sister, who’s in Chicago right now, practically squawked through the phone line when I asked her if she’d bring me back some sea salt. Their unanimous response: “It’s just salt, for God’s sake!”
What’s the big deal anyway? How is sea salt different, thus more ”˜esteemed,’ than the usual rock salt and iodized table salt? All salt comes from the sea, therefore all salt is sea salt. Er, maybe. What I do know is that salt is the chicest thing to hit shores. Foodies used to gift their foodie friends with exotic olive oils ”“ now it’s specialty salts from France, Korea, Japan, and Hawaii. Some chefs even prepare tasting menus pairing each course with a particular salt.
All salt contains close to 80% sodium chloride with the rest being a wide variety of minerals. However, it’s the refining method used that produces the different shapes of salt: crystals, snowflakes, dense cubes. I was at Rustan’s Taste yesterday at Ayala Center, and they had an assortment of sea salt as well as salt specifically for margaritas! I was there like a deranged musician vigorously shaking each salt package to determine the coarseness of each salt.
Different salts will melt at different rates on the tongue, delivering a faster or slower charge of saltiness. I’d prefer a crunchy, coarse salt on a nice slab of steak, pretzels, or even an oatmeal cookie while a fluffier, lighter salt will do well on a salmon tartare, for instance.
But I’m far from being a salt snob. You won’t find me turning up my nose at McCormick’s Iodized Table Salt or the P20/kilo rock salt from the palengke (market). Sometimes, salt is just salt. But it sure doesn’t hurt when it looks like large glimmering crystals.
Here are the tomatoes that my mom brought back for me from Baguio. I sliced them in half and sprinkled them with pink peppercorns and my French table salt. Together, the trio glistened in the morning sun. In my mouth, the burst of tomato juice melded with the crunch of salt ending with an explosion of heat from the peppercorn. Now that’s what I call seduction.