I am most definitely not a morning person. Not that I wouldn’t like to be. Once in a while I’ll psyche myself up and tell myself I’m going to get up when Joe is taking his shower, pull on some sweats, gather the hair out of my face and strap on some tennies for a good morning workout on the treadmill. But for whatever reason – a poor night’s sleep, or a cat sleeping solidly on my legs, effectively pinning me to the bed, or just not being able to emerge from my safe and warm flannel world before the light of another gray, cold, rainy, my-God-how-long-will-this-Seattle-winter-weather-last?!? day – it just doesn’t happen.
Accepting this, Joe and I have worked out a productive weekday morning routine, where while I’m taking my shower and moisturizing the increasingly desert-wasteland-like expanse of my skin, he pretty much does everything from feed and water the cats, to preparing our breakfast, to assembling individual salads for lunch. My job is to come in and be groggily cute (at least in my mind) until I’m fed, clean-up the kitchen and dress the salads before he’s ready to go out the door. Now, usually I make vinaigrette from scratch when we have salads for dinner, but for the lunch salads, most days I simply reach up into a cupboard that has a variety of vinegars and some oils. A glub glub glub of oil and a blip blip blip of vinegar, and we’re almost there. I reach into another cupboard and pull out the secret ingredient, the gourmet touch that will stop Joe in the middle of a bite to call or email me, praising me on my wondrous dressing, the subtle nuance that will essentially allow me to steal all the glory for the entire salad he has so diligently gathered, washed, chopped and artfully layered in its plastic container….a pinch, sprinkled ever so delicately over the top, of gourmet sea salt.
I first became aware of the many varieties of sea salt through one of my cooking magazines, who mentioned a company called Salt Traders. After checking it out I promptly ordered a few sample-sized bottles in groovy names that made me wonder if I was buying some high-end drugs instead of sea salt; Peruvian Pink, Cypress Black, Hawaiian Red and Japanese Nazuna. Since then, I’ve found similar sea salts at Central Market and Whole Foods, too. My current favorite is Olivier’s & Co.’s Sel A La Truffe Blanche, or Salt with White Truffle. It’s a fine, grey salt from France, like powdery sand, flavored, obviously, with truffle, my new wicked little indulgence. Simply catching a whiff of truffle oil or this salt liquefies my tongue, makes my libido stand up like a prairie dog, and catapults me instantly to distant, exotic shores. Not only does it make a routine lunchtime salad eaten at my desk feel like a decadent treat, but it’s outrageous on popcorn with a light dusting of freshly grated parmesan, or simply alone. What could be more exotic on your popcorn, of all things, than salt imported from France infused with subterranean fungi specially hunted and gathered by truffle-snuffling dogs? (Apparently dogs are more commonly trained to hunt truffles these days than pigs because unlike the pigs they don’t eat them, and they are easier to get in a car….)
Even though I’m an obvious Foodie, I’m sad to admit I have never bought a truffle on its own. Some deep-set, middle-class, military brat upbringing shopping-in-the-commissary mentality usually stops me because of the outrageous price. But I’m overcoming that rapidly, and some day… some day.