Market Watch

Take it with a Grain of Salt, Or a Chunk

There's wisdom and more in that little shaker on the table. Expand your salt horizons and explore the vast world of salt at The Meadow in Northeast Portland.

By Teri Gelber May 19, 2011


Salt for All
Credit: The Meadow

"Trust no one unless you have eaten salt with him," said Cicero, the Roman statesman and philosopher. (Oh but wise old Cicero turned against his comrade Anthony and well, let’s just say he was history after that.) The Romans prized salt. Soldiers were often paid in salt and so, we have the word salary. Other salt related words are salami and salatious, both fitting in an Italian context. There’s some ancient history for you, but did you realize there are over 150 types of salt? And, did you know that salt comes in a rainbow of colors, and like wine, tastes unique to its terroir? At The Meadow, a small shop on Mississippi, you can learn all you’d ever need to know about this essential crystal.

I have quite a significant selection of salts in my kitchen pantry. A chunk of pink Himalyan for grating. A big bag of grey sea salt for texture. A bulk white California sea salt for salting water, cooking, and pickling (I don’t use kosher or any adulterated salts). A big tub of fleur de sel that my friend’s French mother always brings me on her visits. A box of Maldon Celtic salt flakes that add a wonderful crunch. And, a black Hawaiian salt that I sprinkle over light colored foods for a dramatic effect. I thought I was overdoing it until I checked out the selection at The Meadow. Of course, I began to get yet another salt craving. I might need that Djibouti Boule from Lake Assal in Africa, with crystals that range from tiny to the size of a softball. And, the Aburi sea salt smoked over cherry wood might be the perfect touch over pan-roasted cod.

The staff at this friendly shop will happily guide you through any of the different salts you’d like to try. They’ll tell you each one’s special function and why some are pricier than others or you can take a class to learn even more. On June 16th, for $30, a class called Chilling and Grilling on Himalayan Salt Blocks, you’ll learn how to prepare food on 600 million year old salt blocks from Pakistan. Heating, freezing, cleaning, and storage will also be discussed. This 1½ hour class includes snacks, wine and an in-depth discussion of everything you ever wanted to know (and everything you never knew you always wanted to know), about cooking with plates and blocks and bricks and rocks of Himalayan Pink salt.

And if you want even more salt facts and lore, check out the owner’s recent book, Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral. Just last week, Mark Bitterman’s tomme won a James Beard Foundation award for reference and scholarship. Beard, (not a Roman, but an Oregonian!) must’ve been smiling during the ceremony; One of his famous quotes is "Where would be without salt?"

The Meadow 3731 N. Mississippi Avenue 503-288-4633

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