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Friday, May 13, 2011

Oh, the tingle of warm minerals!

Murray River pink salt (click to enlarge to appreciate its beautiful flakiness)

Last week in the Dining section of the New York Times, Harold McGee, that guru of all things culinary, wrote an article about salt.  During my travels I look for local salt and have a growing collection of herb salts from France, truffle salt from Italy, rock salt crystals used for deodorant from the souks of Egypt, and my favorite, a large box of pink Murray River Basin salt from Australia.  Guests in my kitchen occasionally notice this salt and ask me why it is pink.  I proceed to say I don’t know (until now) and then a taste test generally ensues whereby said guest convinces themselves that indeed not all salt tastes alike and that this pink salt really does have a lovely sweet taste and great “mouth feel”----or to quote selmelier-extraordinaire Mark Bitterman’s description of Murray River salt, “distinct sunshine sweetness; tingle of warm minerals.”

From McGee I now know the pink color comes from algae living in the groundwater of the Murray River Basin.  It’s the pink flamingo of salt!  I also discovered Bitterman wrote an entire book on the subject of artisanal salts, Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes, which just went to the top of my reading list.  Apparently, I have only just scratched the Earth’s surface when it comes to salt…..

(photo from the NYTimes article by Tony Cenicola)