My first peanut buster parfait?
Bacon drenched in maple syrup?
That chocolate covered pretzel?
Memories of salty sweetness are dancing in my head. The two are everywhere. I’m gazing through my last copy of gourmet, the august edition, bold and confident (before the magazine folded) and I keep going back to a recipe for salty caramel ice cream. It’s November now, but salty sweetness defies the seasons. I walk downstairs and my boys are watching Charlie and the chocolate factory. The ompa loompas are mixing sugar into the chocolate river. Later I sit down to Jeffrey Steingarten’s column in October’s Vogue. It’s on candy. Chocolate covered pork rinds included. I rummage through the remainder of the Halloween candy. Of course the wunderbars and Reese’s peanut butter cups are long gone. It’s the salty-sweetness. (Incidentally Wunderbars, with their chewy, peanut-butter center and chocolate coating, fueled my triathlete wunder-friend Laura to the half-ironman world championships. They really are a perfectly balanced food. She came in 6th.)
I settle for Lindt’s dark chocolate with ‘hand harvested fleur de sel’. The touch of saltiness is mixed throughout, not sprinkled on top. It snaps apart. The chocolate is creamy with a mysterious hint of saltiness. I know, I’m being sucked in. Hand harvested salt, like my boyfriend jeans, is trendy. But no matter. The combination satiates.
Savouring this combination is probably just lazy tasting.
When food enters the mouth sweetness is greeted first, saltiness second. Sour and bitterness – those complicated, moody tastes – require patience as food travels down the tongue.
Salty sweetness is about balance. They settle something within. I think about this as I read Kate Inglis’ incredible blog, sweetsalty. It chronicles her life on the south shore of Nova Scotia – the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the tasty, the ugly and all that lies between. Its sweetness isn’t saccharine- it’s old-fashioned, natural honey. Itssaltiness isn’t unsavoury- there’s loyalty, wisdom, depth and preservation. It’s practically Biblical. The two mixed together create more than the sum of their parts; it’s funny.
I ask Kate why she chose sweetsalty as the name for her blog. “I just wanted something kind of understated and evocative, and it kind of popped up and felt right. Metaphorically, in terms of the sound of the words. And I think the essence of food is in there, too – writing has always been an act of nourishment. And the only way to explain how I wanted my blog to be is that I wanted it to feel not so much like the Internet, but like someone’s warm kitchen. Does that make sense?”
Yes. No wonder I love it so much. Now where’s my ice cream maker?