salt, saltiness and salteeeeeness



there's an ocean of salt. at first glance it seems silly to write of it. yet, as i have still some salt of my youth in me, i'll make an attempt. as i am by now an old salt, you must take me with a grain of it. i know that it does span time, already jesus claimed it the thang of the earth, and an even earlier tale had the wife turn around and hence into a pillar of the stuff. see for yourself.



since then it has certainly taken off and on all sorts of meaning and usage. whether purled from oceans, solar or frothed from a caldron, washed out of rocky deposits from mers ancienne, or mined as halite. so many salts, from hundreds of sites the world over, mozart's birth place amongst. in early days, say six k bc, folk in what is now transylvania, boiled down salt-laden spring water in broken briquetage. i didn't know that, but it means to take such water and boil it away in ceramics till only salt crust remained. or in the alternate, that other ancient way, of those salt flats, dried ocean lakes, or sea salt ponds, raking and scraping a salty harvest. such salt works existed, seems before time. then and since the salt trade made many a man wealthy, and gave some quite the salary, get it?  and has ever since. the salt tax made kingdoms and salt is big business today, with a pr to match. its production is huge, industry in manufacturing alone takes up some ninety percent of it's reaping. industrial salt's uses are many, it melts the ice on roads, though pro tanto not in oregon. it does stuff for pulp and paper, helps making detergents and does the dyes in many a textile, even purifies the arena for sumo wrestling. but saline food grade accounts for only a sprinkle. at the bar and at my house it rims margaritas, it tingles the palate, as salad means salted, i can't imagine dressing mizuna without. salt in water does not make it boil faster, but gives the pasta you cook the twang you like. and there it is. those white or grey or pink or red or black crystals are enhancers of flavor, increasing aroma, adding essence to savor, zing to blah. some say the various colors hold unforgettable aromas. regrettably i don't know about that, though i have pursued and sniffed, sampled and tasted many such salts, in grains individually as well as infused into some varied foods, i can't make out a difference. i feel like the fox in the fable, i claim a cold. a friend would say: but pink is pretty. so it is. and then, some salts seem saltier when ground to a finer flow, bearing density and texture. others tooth more of a crunch, flakes and coarse crystals have it there over mere morton's. the perfumed, the painted, the flavored, the smoked, the purified, the roasted, are all salty. but in the end table salts are mainly sodium chloride,  with insignificant trace minerals. i'm not much for hype. i'm cheap. i like value. a pound of organic, if himalayan at four hundred bucks might be pretty, and on a lesser dollar, that hawaiian red clay or black lava holds nothing for me, whereas a simple but flaky and grey fleur de sel turns out heaven. in my kitchen at least. i use it nimbly between thumb and two fingers in a final touch to freckle a poached halibut, or to christen the dark roast of a tenderloin. and then a handfull of cheap kosher cooks pasta, preserves meat or does a pickle for tiny cucumbers. as salt of venus, in sauce or in sausage, above and below the salt, there's only two kinds around here, the much refined common and the pure, if by land from the sea.