Salt. It has been desired through civilizations; it’s even led to bloodshed. It’s kept communities from starving through winter or long nautical voyages as a handy preservative. It’s in the oceans, the mountains, and our own bodily makeup.  It carries flavor from the lands and seas from which it is mined. Salt is a part of us, and perhaps like thirst, we quench for its flavor.

Our own spice cabinet is filled with an array of salts: lava salt, sea salt, Himalayan salt, truffle salt… each adding their unique texture and flavor.

I came across Norður Salt on a trip to Iceland last year and can’t get enough of it here at home. Its large, crunchy flakes are a delightful addition to anything from grilled salmon to buttered bread. This Icelandic salt is collected through a sustainable geothermal production method which is unchanged from the first time it was tried in Iceland and Denmark in 1753.

Assorted Icelandic salts
Assorted Icelandic salts

I love this array of flavored salts [pictured above from left to right: rhubarb, blueberry, black lava, and garlic]. Andrew and I picked these up in a cool basement shop with assorted crafts and fresh boosts (fruit smoothies) around the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. I am in search of a recipe which specifically calls for the fruity salts, but for now, they’re greatly suited for desserts. If you have one, please send it my way! The star of salts for me is black lava salt. It has a sharp, spicy flavor and even touching it will turn your fingertips black. I like to add this salt is to a soft boiled egg along with Japanese hot pepper.

Moving east, we shift from Iceland to France. La Baleine Sea Salt is an absolute go-to in our house when it comes to cooking with salt.

French Sea Salt France
French Sea Salt

Using good salt, even in the water that is boiling your pasta, will make all the difference in taste.

And so we continue onward and southeastward to taste the salty delights of Italy.

truffle salt italy
Truffle Salt

Casina Rossa Truffle Salt is a delight that could not go without mention, with its poignant, distinguished smell and intense flavor adding sophistication to any dish.

Also in Italy, we find Sale aromatico ai fiori. This is a wide crystal salt embedded with dried flowers. This salt is extra special as it was purchased in the mountains where I’ve spent Christmas since I was a child in the dolomites.

Sud Tyurol
Sale aromatico ai fiori, pictured next to our epic Peugeot black pepper grinder purchased in the South Tyrol region

I’ll have to dedicate another post to the pink Himalayan and Hawaiian salts!

Don’t forget to ‘pass the salt’ and when you do, place it down on the table rather than hand to hand. It’s good luck!