Most of us are aware of the dangers of too much salt in our diet and what it can possibly lead to; high blood pressure, stroke, water retention, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, swelling, difficulty breathing and heart failure to name but a few. So why do ‘celebrity’ chefs still add copious amounts of salt to their delights, like confetti over a bride? A good pinch here, a generous sprinkle there, it all adds up to, well, heart failure.
Now the reason I’m singling out celebrity chefs is because the usual suspect such as food manufactures and fast food restaurants (I use the word restaurant in the loosest of terms when alongside ‘fast food’) get a regular bashing by the press and the government for all the ‘hidden’ salts in the produce, whereas chefs appear to be unregulated so have managed to crawl under the radar, (not to mention just having seen Mr Ramsay pour a small salt mountain into his fish paste). Not only that, but you can’t switch on your television without a familiar face being at home, in a market kitchen or in a hell’s kitchen primed and ready, steady to cook. Some of us look up to these chefs, admire them, are inspired by them, yet aren’t they luring us to go against the recommended guidelines which could lead to damaging our health?
Of course we have the ability to make our own choices in life, whether it be to add or not to add, to pinch and sprinkle or abstain. But celebrity chefs should be setting an example, especially to all the new comers to cooking who haven’t yet discovered the delights of other flavourings and seasonings. Surely they should be setting an example for the next generation of chefs and cooks as well?
Could it be our favoured chefs are dwelling on our past, after all salt has been used for many thousands of years? Historically salt was prized. Its reputation can be found in phrases like, “Worth one’s salt,” since people, especially the Romans, were often paid in salt. The word itself is derived from the Latin salarium, or salary. Historically, Roman’s lived to 48 years old though; maybe a poor diet was a contributing factor to their early demise!
Don’t get me wrong, salt has it’s place in moderation, as far as I’m concerned. We need salt, it’s vital for the smooth running of our bodies. My jury is still out though on how much salt actually enhances the flavour of a meal. I can remember my Gran, thus same Biscuit Tin Gran, adding salt to her tomatoes and hard boiled eggs, and I also remember liking it when I tried it, but not because it enhanced the flavour of the tomato or the egg, but because I liked the saltiness and the tingle on my tongue. For me, it did nothing but detract from the actual flavour of the food. Why would you want to add salt to a tomato and suppress the natural sweetness of this fruit?
You’ve probably guessed, but I don’t add salt to my cooking and I’ve not had any complaints yet! My family aren’t polite enough not to give their constructive criticism on any meal I cook, so be assured, I would have been told by now if salt was a requirement. Instead I use various ingredients to add flavour, such as fresh herbs, spices, citrus fruit, vinegar and garlic.
Salt is by no means a banned substance from our house, and very occasionally I will use salt if I really feel it is necessary; I’ve also been known to overindulge on salt and vinegar crisps, you know the ones, once you pop…..oh so true! A little of what you fancy is a saying I adopt when necessary and it acts as a great get out to be able indulge in a little wine, a little chocolate, a little cheese. But for me I think I’ll pass on the salt.
That is of course, until I visit a celebrity chefs restaurant!