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Good news for salt lovers. June 5, 2011

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. Our friend Ben and I grew up with salt as an essential component of every meal. (Our friend Ben’s family went so far as to set salt shakers before every place setting, so everyone had access to his or her own without having to fight over it or spoil dinner conversation with constant interruptions of “Please pass the salt.”) So it was with great horror that we saw salt vilified in our adulthood, to the point where we were heaped with abuse by friends and colleagues each time we reached for the salt shaker. If we’d been grabbing the whiskey and swigging some down straight from the bottle between bites, people could not have been more critical.

Having grown up in civilized surroundings, where one did not comment on the eating habits of others—at least, not in their presence—OFB and I were at a loss to think why people all seemed to feel free to condemn our choices and habits while we attempted to mind our own business and enjoy our food. You’d have thought we were eating cigarettes.

We grew sick of waiters who stared contemptuously at us when we requested the always-absent salt shaker at restaurants. (I finally got so disgusted I started carrying a picnic-style salt shaker in my purse.)

We grew tired of explaining to our outspoken friends that our blood pressure and cholesterol remained quite low, that we made an effort to find natural, mineral-rich salt (such as RealSalt), and that we found that salt added savor to food, bringing out its inherent flavor rather than disguising it like herbs and spices (including black pepper). Not that I have a bad thing to say about herbs and spices, and of course, I use them constantly, but there’s no question that when you add an herb or spice to food, it changes the flavor, unlike salt, which adds no flavor of its own but simply enhances the inherent flavor of a food.

Anyway, just as we were about to turn homicidal on this issue, a miracle happened: Salt became fashionable. Artisanal salts, of course: grey sea salt harvested off the Breton coast, pink-orange Himalayan salt mined in chunks and slabs. Chefs rediscovered what salt could do for food, and it returned to the table at upscale restaurants. Thanks be to God!

Then, yesterday, we were reading the news when I saw the final vindication. Nutritionists who seem to spend their lives condemning natural foods like eggs, wine, chocolate, and coffee while keeping quiet about adulterants like high-fructose corn syrup and saccharine have been forced to eat their words on so many past pronouncements, and now it looks like they’re going to have to do it with salt. The latest study shows that salt has no effect on blood pressure whatever in people whose blood pressure is normal to begin with.

I quote: “In May, a study published in Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA, the official and most prestigious medical publication in the U.S.] reported that healthy people who consumed the least sodium don’t have any heart-health advantage over those who consume the most.” In case you missed it, that would be any.

Bwaaahahaha!!! Take that, you people who have so vulgarly and blatantly condemned our eating habits to our faces over the years! Perhaps that will teach you a little humility along with better manners. We don’t scream at you for not eating salt; we couldn’t care less if you eat none, a little, or a lot. It’s none of our business. And by the way, what we eat is none of yours. So keep your self-righteousness to yourselves. And please pass the salt.

          ‘Til next time,

                       Silence

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