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In the summer of 1996, I traveled with my family to Germany for my cousin’s wedding. I was seventeen at the time, with questionable fashion sense that I blame on the unfortunate sartorial offerings of the decade and a formerly bad haircut that was growing out nicely. It was my first time in Europe and there were many moments that left their imprint, the culmination of which was an itch to travel that I have never outgrown.

I could write about drinking my first weisse beer or eating white sausages or how my father wrangled complimentary hotel accommodations for everyone in our traveling party (the parents and sisters of the bride were with us as well) at the Frankfurt Airport when we arrived after a sixteen hour delay due to our plane being (direct quote) “unfit to cross the Atlantic.” I could write about the fields of hops we passed on our way to the picturesque village of Waldenburg or how after the wedding ceremony we “kidnapped” the bride, drinking champagne in a cobblestone alley behind a bar while the groom went from pub to pub in search of her.

But instead, my memory is drawn back to the days after the wedding when we stayed with a friend of the groom in his picturesque village along with his Irish wife and stepdaughter.  During one of our day trips, we passed through yet another charming town where murals were painted on the outside of buildings in muted, sun faded colors. One mural depicted carts of salt and, as the mural progressed along the building, it being unloaded and finally (I think – memory is a tricky thing) a feast at a long table surrounded by the high society of medieval times. The groom’s friend Michael (who had stayed at our house in the States and was returning the hospitality) told us that salt was once so valuable that your proximity to the salt bowl at the table indicated your level of importance. The closer you were to it, the higher your standing.

There’s always back and forth in the scientific community about what is good and bad for us, what is healthy and what is not. Himalayan pink sea salt is now being touted as having health benefits due to it being packed with minerals and elements (don’t hate it just because Gwyneth Paltrow loves it). And although I’m not a fan of the saying “everything in moderation” (a rant for another day), a little bit of salt is a beautiful thing in food and drinks. It makes my savory foods more savory and my sweet dishes, yes, sweeter. I mean, there’s a reason why salted caramel and chocolate-covered pretzels are so popular.I can’t drink tequila without it. The contrast of crushed sea salt on top of the pot de cremes I make for barVino enhances the dense, bittersweet chocolate whereas whipped cream is simply a sweet thing atop another sweet thing.

What’s your favorite way to use salt?


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One comment

  1. My favorite salt is less about the type of salt, and more about where it is stored. The only thing I have from my Italian grandmother, besides a love of food and cooking, is her salt box. It was always near her stove, and I keep it in the same place. Whenever I salt food, I feel that she is somehow in my cooking. If half of her passion can end up on our plates, we are doing very well!

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