Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sale for Free

"Salt", the book, is an easy read with tons of anecdotes about the history of salt and everything connected with it. I read it myself about 2 years ago. This was before my salt restricted diet made the taste of salt a rare experience for me. However, Maddine loves salt and would prefer something salty to something sweet. For me the salt diet has impoverished my choices of food. Gone are all the cured meats, the prosciutto, the capacola, salami picante also gone are the capers and olives that we cure and the sausages we like to grill in our fireplace. Please do not worry though, I get plenty to eat.
On the web you can read the many opinions on sea salt. Some say it tastes better than the more processed mined salt and healthier because it has more minerals. Sea salts come in various colors like pink, blue and black. We like it because of the texture and it tastes great. This year our one and only trip to the beach at Argentario doubles as our sea salt collection expedition. There is a site on the far side of the Monte Argentario along that narrow road where if you arrive early you can park. Next you gather your things and step down a steep rain eroded track to the rock formed bay and small beach below. There on the outer rocks, the large waves break and spray them with the salty water. Some runs back to the sea and some pools in the small pockets across the hard surface where over time and with evaporation the crystals form out of super saturated solution and wait for either rain or wave for a re-dissolve or the occasional salt collector, Us.

It is a hot sweaty business, crawling around the boulders under that scorching (I'll not say it!) sun until you have gathered enough so you can swim back to the beach area and get under the umbrella again with my big hat. When it is time to leave for dinner that steep downward path is now a vertical and it is a hard third of a mile climb. I do like the exercise, it is a bonus for the day. By the top, I am in drenched in perspiration. Gripped by thirst I swallow way too much water until I feel like a cloud has descended over me and then the nausea hits. Uh Oh, this is the condition of heat exhaustion, not eating salt and sweating and drinking too much water lowers the amount of salt in the cells and creates this dangerous condition. Though sort of wobbly we arrive at our reserved table at Cavaliere a nice seafood restaurant in Orbitello Scalo. A day later I feel better and we have our hoard of salt! Did I say that I don't eat it?