Fancy Salt – Exploding The Myths

First of all let me state that my expertise in this matter extends no further than being 13 stone and five foot eight. I don’t know what that translates to in US pounds or European kilos but I’d definitely live longer than Kate Moss if we both fell into the North Sea. Furthermore, I think this accumulation of mass demonstrates the simple yet vital fact that I like eating and do it quite a lot. In my gustatory explorations I often encounter very firm instructions that I use expensive sea salt flakes rather than the cheapo stuff from the bottom shelf down at my local supermarket. This needless expense will apparently lend my culinary creations greater levels of yumminess. I am firmly of the opinion that this is nonsense.

In an effort to prove conclusively that this is the case I carried out several experiments comparing fancy salt to the humbler variety and forced friends and family to consume both varieties in a number of situations to confirm my prejudices. Said family and friends were happy to endure this tedium providing I then promise to shut up on the subject.

The first experiment involved the preparation of two identical curries utilising a phenomenal array of flavourings both delicate and rugged. Two lamb Kormas from Charmaine Solomon’s excellent ‘Complete Asian Cookbook’ were assembled featuring; oil (didn’t have ghee), ginger, garlic, onion, almonds, chilli, ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, saffron, yoghurt and salt. Of course, in this melee of ingredients it was impossible to discern any difference in the quality of salinity because salt is SALT!

The second experiment was arranged to give the two varieties of salt a greater chance to speak out. Two fillets of sea bream were pan fried in oil and then served with the merest suggestion of fresh lemon juice and salt. Both were very nice, thanks to our excellent local fish monger and no one could tell which was graced by the the ludicrously expensive salt and which had the Happy Shopper stuff. Two-nil.

Finally, I had my weary subjects take part in a straight taste test. I ground some fancy salt flakes until they were of the same consistency as my everyday salt and had them dip their little fingers in both and tell me which was the posh stuff. Of the five people prepared to endure this charade, two spotted the expensive stuff and three couldn’t say one way or t’other. Apparently my smugness at this point was unendurable and they went home.

The point is clear though, sodium chloride is sodium chloride and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is a poseur, a liar or both. Don’t be cheated. Thank you.