Thursday, October 15, 2009
Oct 15 - Salt & Pepper: Our Ubiquitous Friends
One, a basic mineral; essential for animal life. The other, a dried fruit from a flowering vine. The pairing of these two completely diverse items in Europe (France, I believe) back in the 17th Century was and continues to be a marriage made in heaven.
These two little condiments appear in virtually every kitchen and are on the table at nearly every dining establishment you may frequent. They usually live in little matching glass canisters with a metal lid that contains shaker holes - more holes for Salt than Pepper, traditionally.
Cook anything... anything... without even a touch of salt, and it will be bland. Add a pinch to anything and HELLO!!! the flavors come alive. My grandmother used to add a little to her Watermelon. Watermelon? You have got to kidding me. Ewww. That is, Ewww until I tried it. Wow! What a difference. Try NOT putting Salt in your Chocolate Chip Cookies and you will regret it.
As a big fan of Food Network, I have altered my Salt usage. For starters, Kosher Salt lives in a black container my by stove for cooking. Fabulous. Big, tasty flavors that stick to food instead of melting into it. I also add a pinch to Salads. You'd be surprised. Since switching to Kosher Salt, I actually use less!
Then there's our friend, Mr. Pepper. My Mom used to simply buy a canister of Ground Black Pepper. That's all I thought there was. Then came Peppercorns - simply the un-ground dried pepper. They seemed exotic. And then I found out they came in colors as well with variations in flavor. Although I think Food Network uses White Pepper more aethstetically for visually pleasing dishes (you don't put Black Pepper into White Creamy Soups or Alton Brown will kick your ass) than for the subtle differences in flavor.
I always thought Pepper Mills only came in 24-Inch Wooden restaurant sizes, but NO... one day I discovered that Pepper Mills come in all sizes and shape and materials and you should own one!
Start finding places to add Pepper to zazz up your dishes. I add it to Popcorn. I add it to Macaroni & Cheese (the Blue Box, thank you). I love it on eggs. I even recently discovered Earl Grey Tea. This little black tea (Tazo brand at least) is laced with hints of Bergamot - a citrus fruit. But while I don't taste any citrus, the peppery notes are absolutely addictive. Try some.
The only real point here is my simple request that you embrace our two little ubiquitous friends. Don't take them for granted. Use them. Try them. Respect them. Love them.