Fleur de Sel

We were in Brittany a few weeks ago, and visited the salt fields of Guérande. There were no paludiers in evidence, only acres of neatly tended salt ponds. Guérande salt comes in two kinds — one grey and very moist, and the other the brittle, pinkish fleur de sel (‘the caviar of salt’), which is ludicrously expensive if you don’t buy it at source. Or you can make it yourself: the following directions, quoted in Salt. A World History, are from Cato’s De Agricultura:

Fill a broken-necked amphora with clean water, place in the sun. Suspend in it a strainer of ordinary salt. Agitate and refill repeatedly; do this several times a day until salt remains two days undissolved. A test: drop in a dried anchovy or an egg. If it floats, the brine is suitable for steeping meat, cheese or fish for salting. Put out this brine in pans or baking dishes in the sun , and leave in the sun until crystalised. This give you the ‘flower of salt’. When the sun is cloudly, and at night, put indoors; put in the sun daily when the sun shines.

I’m not wholely convinced that Cato’s recipe would deliver anything as delicious as Guérande salt, which tastes of stars…

1 comment

  1. “Salt” was published by Walker … client of mine.
    I want to do a photostudy of their office space. They are absolutely in the nonpaperless office, piles (salt-mound high) sit on every desk. white. there was recently a HUGE pile of volumes of “salt” stacked like a Close Encounters potatoe and trash can mounds. nothing so starlike as pink quintessences.

    can i have some?

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