Jumpin’ Julienned Julia Childs on a Ritz Cracker do I have to put it in every recipe that I write. I mean for crying out loud you put salt and pepper into everything, unless it doesn’t need it and really you should know that. You don’t salt salt pork, OK. Anchovies don’t need much salt either. But do I have to tell you that every time. Do I have to tell you not to put salt in your coffee…AGAIN! That is job one if you are going to attempt to cook. Salt is flavor and properly controlling salt and pepper is the key to cooking. Heck, the word “salary” comes from the latin word for salt. Roman soldiers were paid with the stuff and I’ll bet that they knew enough to put salt in their soup or it would taste like dishwater.
Sometimes it is the only thing a cook should do. A good steak, for example, should only have salt and pepper. The best Texas Barbecue I ever had didn’t have some high falutin’ rub with more herbs and spices than a Col. Sanders wet dream. Salt, Pepper and Smoke is all you need to make the best brisket mankind has ever known. Saltines probably don’t need any salt and neither do salted pretzels but should I waste keystrokes telling you that? Some people put salt on fruit like watermelon, which is not my bag but hey, it takes all kinds. Sometimes adding sweet will make things taste saltier and sometimes a little salt makes sweet things taste sweeter but that is advanced salting technique and worthy of mention in a recipe. At one time black pepper was worth more than gold, mainly because spoiled meat was a problem in the pre-refrigeration age. That doesn’t mean that you can get away with covering your failed dish with pepper and calling it au poivre. Some people put pepper in ice cream, or put it on peaches but they are effete poseurs anyway and any cook worth his or her salt should know what gets pepper and what does not.
It’s the egg salad recipe, or the creamed chipped beef on toast recipe, or the macaroni and cheese recipe or all of the other simple recipes where some poor writer was required to actually type out 200 times “salt and pepper to taste”. Maybe I should author the New Commie Cookbook and write “salt and pepper are bourgeois luxuries and a threat to the state” in 200 bland inedible recipes for the commie masses, but would I really have to tell a commie that either. They would know that salt and pepper only make you yearn for freedom and give you a glimpse into a wider, more flavorful world and should be avoided at all costs lest it lead you to acts of sedition and mayhem. But we aren’t commies are we. We are red blooded freedom loving people and if we decide to exercise that freedom by entering a kitchen and attempting to cook for other people and ourselves we should damn well know how to use some salt and pepper. I mean Emeril’s Eyebrows in Aspic people do I have to tell you that every time?
Salt and pepper image courtesy of aperfectworld.com