Mark Bitterman suggests Himalayan pink salt quarried in Pakistan.
Mark Bitterman roamed the globe hunting special salt for 20 years before he and his wife, Jennifer, opened the Meadow, a gourmet shop selling more than 100 kinds of salt in Portland’s North Mississippi neighborhood. Mark’s obsession crystallized in late 2010 with the publication of Salted: A Manifesto on the World’s Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes, a comprehensive guide. atthemeadow.com.
Q A hundred varieties of salt? Really?
A We have marble-size salt from Djibouti. Our Hana Flake from Japan is überrare, incredibly complex, and makes you think of the throwing stars used in martial arts. The mineral-rich Icelandic Hot Springs looks like chalk and tastes like lightning. Italy’s Fiore di Cervia is lightly fruity.
Q What makes good salt?
A Three characteristics: crystal size and shape; moisture content, which affects suppleness of crunch and how it dissolves on foods; and mineral content, which gives salt its unique ﬂavor—briny, bitter, spicy, sweet.
Q Why North Mississippi?
A We like this area for its many family-owned businesses. In keeping with its homey style, I teach intimate classes such as Introduction to Artisan Salt—each includes wine and concludes with chocolate.
Q Is there a perfect salt for every food?
A I recommend three core salts. For cooking, use sel gris, which has big crystals and lots of moisture. For red meats, keep a ﬁnishing salt that has a distinctive ﬂavor. For salads, stock a ﬂake salt with snappy texture.
Photography by Don Frank
This article was first published in January 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.