Salt This Away

If you’ve ever wondered whether throwing down four bucks for a bag of fancy fleur de sel is worth it, wonder no longer: David Lebovitz makes an excellent case for the pricey crystals (which, he shows, are actually a decent bargain, considering how few of them it takes to salt a dish). His post gives a lovely account of his visit to the salt marshes of France’s Guerande region and the intriguingly complex filtration and harvesting process that goes into producing Fleur de Sel de Guerande—now his all-time fave salt.

It’s inspirational to hear tales like this, since I’ve always been utilitarian when it comes to salt: I’ll use kosher when a recipe calls for it explicitly, sea salt when I have dinner guests, and good ol’ Morton Iodized sprinkled liberally on everything else (largely due to my weird paranoia about developing a goiter). But apparently I’m not really in danger of iodine deficiency, and I love the idea of using a “finishing” salt on my tomatoes and chocolate mousses, just like they do in the restaurants.

One little beef, though: A few of David’s observations are overly gushy. It always makes me skeptical when writers bust out sentences like this one (and he has several of ‘em):

Although the words ‘fleur de sel’ have been bantered around and used as marketing tools for many salts being promoted (nowadays you find salts labeled as such from Portugal, Italy, and elsewhere) nowhere else on earth does the salt have the same fine flavor and delicate crystals of Fleur de Sel de Guerande.

“Nowhere else on earth” sounds a bit like PR copy to me; the post doesn’t have me convinced that he’s tried all of the competition worldwide (though certainly he’s sampled more than I have). If I were editing this piece for a magazine, I’d tone down the grand statements —but then again, bloggers have a lot more license in this arena than magazine writers do, and by and large this freedom makes for refreshingly honest reading.

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