Yes, salt. I was thinking about salt today.
Last year I watched the short Netflix series Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and was struck by how much dang SALT Samin Nosrat put on her food! Glorious. Salt is the white, pink, black sand of the gods.
I love it so much.
I also hate it.
Salt changes things. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Often times it changes things I didn’t want to be changed.
Timing is essential with salt. When added after food has fully matured, it brings out the best in flavor. When added at the right time and in the right way, it preserves foods and extends their life span for consumption. When added to bread dough in the right way, it makes for a flavorful and toothsome loaf. If added directly to the yeast in dough, it retards the development of the yeast and works against the dough’s delicious potential. When added too early and to the wrong place, it kills the possibility of growth; sometimes it kills the very possibility of food.
Salt makes life delicious. It also shortens life spans. It is destructive. Our hearts do not respond well to massive amounts of salt. Going beyond the flesh, salt is corrosive to boats, bikes, appliances… all metal in Hawai’i is at the mercy of the very same salty ocean air that creates paradise.
Salt changes the way I experience my body. Dried into my hair after a long dip in the ocean, it curls and winds strands into mermaid tresses. Salt allows me to taste, not just cry, my tears, adding another dimension of bodily experience to my experiences of sorrow and joy. Salt awakens my taste buds and enlivens my experience of food. Salt seeps into cuts and make pain more acute, more present. After a long run, I can feel the salt from my dried sweat exfoliating my delicate skin. Drinks with sodium (like Gatorade) taste distinctly different before an intense workout and after — before a workout, they taste rather repulsively salty. After sweating out a lot of one’s bodily salt, they become the nectar of the gods.
I crave salt after having too much sweet. Likewise, I crave sweet after having too much salt. My response to salt is one of the easiest indicators I know that something in my body is out of balance, that I need to do something new to restore homeostasis and perhaps optimal health.
I’m amazed at all that salt does, at how it’s bound up with my delicate sensibilities and sense of equilibrium. Salt is integral to some of my most favorite things — eating, working out, the ocean. I wouldn’t be surprised if some day I found out salt was incredibly important to piano music and to books. That would make my love affair with salt complete.