Wine & Food

Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz

Salt

Posted by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 12, 2010.

I don't know if every one is aware but there is a push going on here in NYC to reduce the use of salt in restaurants and educate people about proper salt consumption.

I really have no problem with that, at least with the education part of it.

But then on the news over the past two days there has been an endless parade of idiots and morons on TV "news" programs grabbing their 2 minutes of screen time to tell us that salt isn't even important to the taste of food. Just use garlic and salt!, or lots of pepper!, or a secret blend available for a limited time only!

Well guess what you morons, salt makes food taste better. the right amount, which is probably too much from a health stand point, makes food taste great!

Salt has been a vital component in the growth and development of the species. Romans were paid in Salt. It's vital to our survival. You can not just replace it with garlic. I mean are these people serious. Sadly I think they are.

Now, I repeat (using one of my favorite Italian phrases) I have no issue with teaching people that too much salt is bad and that there are ways to compensate for a reduction in salt intake, but to say salt is not necessary, well lets just say that chaps my hide. What are they going to tell us next, that alcohol isn't important to the flavor and feel of a glass of wine?

I'll go ahead and apologize in advance to the people I've insulted. I know people on restricted salt diets, and have worked with a few in the past developing salt substitutes, (blends that include acid and pepper work best), but there is a limit folks.

Ok, rant over, I think, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Thanks

Replies

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Reply by dmcker, Jan 12, 2010.

Agreed about the need for salt, and you even forgot to mention its key role in keeping humans alive through the winters of our long existence thanks to its preservative capabilities. But I do think there has been way too much salt put into processed foods as the easy way out of dealing with how to package foods with likable flavors and longer shelf lives, while ignoring what large amounts of salt does to the human body. From my own experience I know that we can build tolerances to salt and end up wanting more because we're getting more and that's what we're accustomed to. A lessening of salt in a diet can lead, over time, to a lessening of a body's (or palate's) desire for it, though initially it may seem like the 'flavor' (read as saltiness) isn't there. Stick with it and a few months down the line you're enjoying the dish as much as you did previously with more salt. Or so I've found with several people I've guided through the process...

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Reply by amour, Jan 12, 2010.

I HAVE NOT YET READ THE ABOVE CONTRIBUTIONS AS YET...
I do look forward to reading them....but I have this much to say....some foods need salt to bring out their flavour...even their natural flavour !

Then there is the whole thing about 100% sea-salt or ordinary salt.

SOME HAVE SAID THAT ONE IS WASTING GOOD SEA SALT BY COOKING WITH IT WHEN ORDINARY SALT WOULD DO.
IT DEPENDS.

Having been married to a cardiologist since the seventies....I was preached to on the ills of SALT....BETWEEN HIM AND THE AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION....GOOD GRIEF.
not to mention the AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF CARDIOLOGISTS...BUT
THE FACT REMAINS that we foodies know when our food and drink require salt and put salt we must.....ENJOY!

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Reply by gregt, Jan 12, 2010.

I think it's part of a push to reduce blood pressure. The problem is that like the requirement to post calories in restaurants, it misses the point. People don't have high blood pressure because they eat too much salt, they have it because they eat too much of everything, don't exercise, don't eat fresh veggies, and eat lots of processed and fast foods.

Plus, you have to remember that for the CIty, MacDonalds and Per Se are the same. There isn't really a distinction between the better restaurants and the not-so-good. I don't think this was aimed so much at the top end as it was at the lower-end buffet places, the fast food places, and the take-out Chinese places. And of course the stuff that comes in plastic wrappers, which, no matter what it is, will be full of corn syrup and salt.

At the higher end restaurants however, I think the problem is exactly the opposite of too much salt. I almost always ask for some. I hate those places that don't provide it as a matter of course. I don't want someone to decide exactly how much salt is enough for me. They're ALWAYS wrong. FYI - I have no low blood pressure issues.

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Reply by amour, Jan 12, 2010.

WELL SAID MY DEAR GREGT...!

YES...the pressure point........if we could pun a bit...a play on words !

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 13, 2010.

Well done.

No medium rare.

No, what am I talking about,.

Please pass the salt.

These pretzels, incidentally, are making me thirsty.

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Reply by jameshull, Jan 13, 2010.

Salt is a necessary part of one's diet. This is a fact. We'd die without it. The key is to have total control over HOW MUCH salt is in your food.
Almost all processed food is going to have a high salt content. This is the major problem in this country.
If you buy fresh ingredients, and prepare them yourself (and maybe find some passion for cooking along the way!) and be entirely responsible for the salt content there is not going to be a problem. A teaspoon of salt per day is, I believe, the recommended daily amount recommended. This is entirely realistic for correct seasoning of food.... if you do it yourself!
If you appreciate where your wine comes from.... appreciate where your food comes from too!
Eek, was that too rant-ish?? I do know that I'm preaching to the choir on a lot of this.

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Reply by dirkwdeyoung, Jan 13, 2010.

This discussion reminds me of the old joke, " a journalist interviewed Bocuse, the great French Chef and asked him if he felt any guilt about using so much butter in his food, because after all, everyone knows how bad it is for the health these days, and Bocuse replied, but Monsieur, I am a chef, not a docteur!" My recommendation, put a lot of salt on it in the kitchen, because they will never dare put that much on at the table, but realistically, we all know when it is too much. The only toxic problem today is processed foods, they must be avoided, like the plague that they are.

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Reply by TasteDC, Jan 21, 2010.

Two words - Food Nazis - that's the powers that be in New York. Sorry for the explosive term, but what will be the next enemy that needs to be "exterminated", trans-fats have been abolished, calories restricted, salt controlled and all in the name of "saving" the public?? I think not!!

Very intelligent responses above - I agree, too much processed food in American diet which has high salt (and fat, and sugar and high fructose corn syrup to boot, don't get me started!!). I'm not going to reply to the "salt" issue, because it isn't an issue. When the claims were made that "fat" is bad for you came out 20 years ago, all the pastry companies designed products that were "low fat" and the consumer ate them up - they were full of sugar and MUCH worse for consumer's health. Salt will be just another opportunity for companies to market "low salt" products that are laden with some new-fangled GMO that will rule the world.

Now ketchup, that's red, maybe we should go after that next?

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Reply by elleystar, Jan 21, 2010.

What makes me sad is that there is no distinction between real salt, harvested from the earth, and sodium chloride made in some lab/factory somewhere. The two share nothing but a somewhat similar taste, and really it should come as no surprise that plain NaCl with none of the minerals that are supposed to go along with it wreaks havoc on the thyroid and bp!

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Reply by gottvino4558, Jan 21, 2010.

Socialism at it's best! If I am a restaurant owner/chef, I am going to do my absolute best to beat out my competition. If I decide to add more salt to my foods for better flavor then so be it. That is a complete slap in the face to all restaurant entrepreneurs in NYC.

I agree that all restaurants "should" but should not be forced to disclose their nutrition facts for the betterment of citizens. I believe in a healthier diet for all, but come on, this is America not socialized Europe. The more the government regulates, the lazier American's will become. It's like saying "Congratulations on your endeavor and establishing a restaurant, but now I can tell you how much salt you can put in your food!" Come on, that is ridiculous.

That is also like regulating the amount of grapes a winery is allowed to use per bottle of wine! If you give the government an inch, they will take a mile!!

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Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Jan 21, 2010.

Thanks for all the comments. I will say that I almost always eat meals for which I purchased the raw ingredients. The problem is better phrased as being a processed food problem and not a salt problem.

God knows what some of the crap in these items of "food" are, and let's not get both of us started on high fructose corn syrup TasteDC!

I was a bit more riled up when I posted the above than I am now. To each his own I guess, just leave mine alone!

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Reply by napagirl68, Jan 23, 2010.

It's the health police, poised for socialized medicine! Crazy. What happened to freedom, free will? I am opposed to unhealthy things that are unnatural, like trans fatty acids (man-made in a lab in order to keep twinkies on the shelf for 6mos longer!) But salt??? Yes, too much of anything is not good for you, but salt is ESSENTIAL to bring out flavors in foods. I mean, even in baking sweet items, like cakes and cookies, salt is a necessary ingredient to bring out the sweetness....

I agree with your rant!

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Reply by Eric Guido, Jan 24, 2010.

Honestly, I can't imagine this being enforced in fine dining. I'm picturing secret salt stashes at each chef's station. Not to mention, each dish varies, in a restaurant we season as we taste and stop seasoning when the dish is at it's sweet spot. We don't just put the exact same size pinch in the dish each time we prepare it.

In my opinion, the mass bad publicity against salt has caused many people to not even know what they're missing. I can't tell you how many times I'll make a dish for someone and they ask (something along the line of), "I don't know how you make this taste so good, I've been making this dish for years and have never been able to bring out so much flavor, what's your secret?". My answer "Salt."

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Reply by zufrieden, Jan 24, 2010.

To bring food to the point of perfection, salt is not usually something done without. The problem of excessive salt intake cannot be seriously (or realistically) associated with High Cuisine; most people do not eat such delicacies except on special occasions. Rather, the problem derives from an excessive use of salt in processed (especially canned) and short-order items - food that tends to be cheap and thus consumed most commonly by persons of lower income.

Any sensible law with the intention of changing the behavior of those unwittingly consuming more salt than they should (or would) is a form of benign social engineering. If it restricts the average citizen from infrequent indulgence in good food then it is too restrictive. It is a fine balance between acceptable social engineering and outright interference in individual autonomy (even a social democrat would probably agree with this statement).

I confess to not knowing the details of any proposed law to restrict the intake of salt in NYC. Could someone provide more information? Perhaps everything is being garbled by the news media.


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