Some might think this post is going to be related to dietary restrictions or limitations identifying the quantities of salt used in the American diet . . . it’s not. This article is set to identify restrictions or excesses identified not only with our eating habits, but with our lives, our purchasing habits, our organizations and our thinking. This article needs to be taken . . . “with a grain of salt”.
I began today thinking about what I’ve learned most in my culinary education. I look back at the single most valuable tool that was taught to me since my first kitchen practical application class. To back up just a bit; my family has a significant history of cardio-vascular disease and hypertension. Not to be outdone, I too have the same characteristic in my DNA. With that, I have grown up since about the age of 15, learning to be restrictive in the amount of salt I eat, the fat contents in foods . . . blah, blah, blah! I go into my first kitchen class and begin to turn in food production assignments for grading. “Needs more salt”, Chef Lindsey Cook (her maiden name, and also a CritDicks’ “Recognizing Awesomeness” feature) would tell me. “Not enough salt”, she would say. As I worked hard to make her happy with my dishes, I would tell her that I was afraid to add to much, because everything I tasted seemed over salted. Over salted, to me, was seemingly the addition of any salt. Through the continuous education, and various Chef Instructors I had studied under, I became increasingly aware of the different aspects of herbs and spices, honing my palate to detect the flavors associated with foods and ingredients. Salt, I identified, being the single greatest component to the embodiment of flavor.
When asked one day, “what do you think is the single greatest thing you’ve learned” (in your culinary education)? I thought for a long time about that question. I thought for a long time about my answer. I now think about the breadth of my answer. “Salting . . . it was probably the single hardest thing for me to learn and perfect”; yet the single most important aspect of cooking to effectively make all foods taste correct and palatably dynamic!
I think now for a moment about life. “Too much salt”! “Not enough salt”! It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized some of the learning traits associated with salt. If you watch patrons in a restaurant, you will clearly recognize those patrons that immediately grab the shaker and add salt to whatever dish they are about to eat, even without tasting the food just as it comes out of the kitchen. I always think to myself, “they didn’t even taste it”.The expression, “With a grain of salt” refers to making things appear better than the are, to flavor them, so things are more palatable and easy to take. I continue to analyze the breadth of “salting”. Salt can add flavor. Salt, when adding too much can ruin a dish. Without enough salt, a dish can be meaningless and void of expression. Salt added to a wound, can hurt . . . yet sometimes aid in healing. Maybe that’s where I’m going with this. Can your business entity, restaurant or the food you are preparing benefit from adding more salt . . . more expression . . . an added element; or does your business use too much expression of one component . . . rely too heavily on one aspect, one component? Are they adding too much salt to only one element of the business . . . to their food . . . in an attempt to bolster their expression? Are customers or guests too used to ordering the same plate . . . are they too used to doing the same thing . . . ordering the same service, buying the same product while other products, business services or menu items don’t get the same recognition or sales numbers? Think about that. Are you adding too much salt? Do you need to add just another pinch? Did your event have just the right amount of salt? Was it successful? Was it ok, . . . or was it spectacular?
The study I read can be found here, http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=18311&page=1. It suggests the recommended allowances for salt intake may be insufficient for some, yet be overbearing for others due to the under-researched effects on health. Not to say they are totally under-researched, but lack conclusive evidence that suggest detrimental health effects across the board for some classes of studied subjects. I’m not quit sure what to think anymore. I just know that I will probably not benefit from my intake, yet I find it almost unbearable now to even cook without it. Having the culinary training I now possess, it’s very hard for me to accept anything that lacks adequate salt in the final product. I also find it extremely difficult to add regular “table” salt (typically iodized) after the cooking has been performed. There’s a certain melting or dissolving of the grains that takes place providing better distribution of the salt (think sprinkling salt on unsalted French Fries), whereas some areas of the food seem saltier than the next bite.
Think for a moment about any situation. Could any situation, event, product, service benefit from the addition of salt? Now think about the customer receiving a bag of fries from the local eatery. If the customer is one that actually tastes the food before adding more salt; what do you think their reaction is? What is your reaction when you receive unsalted fries? I often times feel the restaurant should have already added the salt. I know some restaurants have special blends they add to their fries and others that take great pride in their fries being properly seasoned as they leave the kitchen. Think about the product or service you provide. Do you want your cutomer thinking something is missing, maybe something is just too much . . . maybe too much salt! Maybe you just gave your customer a product or service that lacks salt . . . lacks the dynamic impact that separates you from your competition . . . that makes your dish, your restaurant or your fries better than “the other guy”. Trust me, you want to stand out, . . . just many folks or businesses can’t recognize their shortcomings . . . their lack of salt!
Make yourself a standout . . . learn about “salting”.