On a newspaper I’ve found something I believe is worthy of discussion, a reader writes to a journalist explaining his meal experience:
I just returned from a lovely dinner at ……. The first two courses of the tasting menu were perfect, as was my chicken breast main course, but the spinach and potatoes needed a bit of salt. Looking around, I noticed there was no salt or pepper at any table. I asked our waitperson for some salt, which was promptly brought. However, on the way out, I inquired as to why there was no salt or pepper on tables. She said that the chef did not think it was necessary.
I found this answer to be rather pretentious. The chef was excellent, no question, but I cannot believe that he hits his seasonings perfectly every time (witness the spinach). So, I pose you the question: How do you feel about the increasing number of restaurants that have abandoned salt & pepper on tables? I’d appreciate your opinion.
The journalist answer leaves no room for doubt.
It’s simple: I don’t like it. I think it smacks of arrogance
Was it a smack of arrogance?
Frankly speaking I wouldn’t be surprised; in the kitchen we should have more artisans and fewer artists. But you know what? The arrogant Chef may not be wrong.
For centuries salt, or to give its scientific name, sodium chloride (NaCl), has been regarded as one of the most important items of diet for health. Salt was so important that people were actually paid in salt (it is the origin of the word 'salary'), and it was used extensively as a valuable commodity for bartering. Then, suddenly, in the 20th Century it became a killer: indicted as a cause of hypertension and, thence, of stroke and of heart disease.
Am I saying that we should skip the salt from our food?
I grew up with a father that would add salt before even tasting the food,
is something I find impolite and not very clever as much as people that ask a sprinkle of fresh black pepper on anything you present them.
Is it too much to ask YOU to taste your food first?
To try to understand what the Chef thinks that food should taste?
The “point of salt” can’t be universal;
each one of us has a different taste,
but more we travel and more we understand that each cuisine is founded on different bases, contrasts, thinking;
I remember that before going to live in Japan I used to add tons of soya sauce on the white rice until the day I understood that rice have actually his own taste, is pretty much like when we add sugar in the espresso or sweetener on green tea.
For someone of us eating is an enormous pleasure and if I definitely defend the right of adjust the food to taste but at the same time people should seriously ask them self.
Do I really need to add something at this dish?
Do I really think it is necessary or is just an unconditioned reflex?
Is it supposed to be this way?
I’m happy with the trend of disappearing salt and pepper shakers on the tables of quality restaurants (if is really true) and I don’t think it is arrogance but in contrary I interpret it as a statement of confidence, a sign of the care that the chef takes when it comes to taste and the message he/she want to transmit.
You need more salt? Just ask but taste first.