Salt of the Earth

Two types of salt are common in every Israeli grocery: 'melach l'shulchan' ('table salt' - fine, free-flowing) and 'melach l'bishul' ('cooking salt' - coarse, 'kosher' salt.) While modern trends may point to increased use of free-slowing salt for cooking, the package label 'cooking salt' on the coarse variety serves as a culinary benchmark, reminding us of what our mothers (or grandmothers) were using.

Ah, nostalgia. Childhood food memories can be so comforting -- we weren't responsible for the cooking and cleaning then, rather, were fed and nurtured. With the ever escalating pace of modern life and it's dependence on convenience and 'fast' foods, recalling the love-infused homemades of our formative years offered by stay-at-home moms (or bubbes) who coddled us, can be very grounding.

I like to keep a bowl of coarse salt near the stove. There's something organic about pinching the salt and feeling it with your fingers. Perhaps this provides me with a sense of bonding to my European mother, z'l, an excellent cook who prepared everything from scratch, owning neither measuring cups nor recipe books. Real home cooking has always been done by 'feel'--a little of this, a pinch of that. How much exactly? No one can say. It's in the 'feel.'

I could reminisce for hours, but gefilte fish is calling...

Posted by Ruth Baks