Anyone who knows me knows that I gravitate to the sweet.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy and appreciate the salty.
After all, salt is one of the most essential ingredients in cooking. It boosts flavor and balances tastes. It can add moisture; and leech out excess liquid to firm up textures. It can also preserve and ferment.
For a real appreciation of all the forms that salt take and what they can do just pick up a copy of “The Miracle of Salt” (Artisan, 2022).
This comprehensive book is by Naomi Duguid, a writer, photographer and world traveler who has made a career out of immersing herself completely in the traditions and cultures of various foodstuffs in her award-winning cookbooks.
This fascinating book looks at how salt is harvested around the world, from Japan to Ethiopia to Gujarat in India. You’ll learn how to use salt in new ways, such as to make your own “Red Miso” from scratch and “Quick Salted Egg Yolks” that can be grated over pasta like bottarga.
It’s not only a compelling memoir about a unique restaurant with a formidable sense of place, but it includes some delightful recipes, as well.
The Grey opened in December 2014 in Savannah, GA in what was once a segregated Greyhound bus depot. The restaurant is the vision of entrepreneur businessman Morisano, who had no previous restaurant experience whatsoever, and Bailey, who formerly cooked at Prune in New York, but had never opened her own restaurant before.
Morisano, who is white, and Baily, who is Black, formed a partnership to bring a new inclusivity to this once-divided symbol of the South, and in so doing, also elevated the region’s cuisine with fresh vitality. It proved a critical success, earning Executive Chef Bailey the James Beard Award for “Best Chef Southeast” in 2019.
For the two business partners, though, it was anything but a smooth road. That makes the book all the more commendable for its candid look at the sweat, tears and fortitude it took for them to understand and trust one another in this arduous project. With America’s reawakened reckoning with racism this past year, this book couldn’t be more timely. It touches on the here and the now, demonstrating how our present is vastly shaped by our past, much of it hard to forgive.
If like me, you can’t get enough of nuoc cham — that zesty, indispensable Vietnamese dipping sauce for spring rolls, rice noodle salads, and so much more — you will go bonkers for this summery tomato and grain salad.
“Farro and Tomato Salad with Fish-Sauce Vinaigrette” takes a dressing with a similar profile as nuoc cham — minus the lime juice — to dress a colorful, bountiful mix of chewy, nutty farro grains with fresh heirloom tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, and a lavish amount of fresh parsley and tarragon leaves.