Monday, April 7, 2008

Fleur de Sel

“Ooh-la-la!” or “this is better than ...” is frequently a response we hear when a customer devours a fleur de sel caramel for the first time. It is a delightful and sometimes hilarious scene that draws me away from the kitchen. Some customers are puzzled and beckon to know why we add fleur de sel to chocolate in the first place. Naturally my thoughts glide to a childhood along the Gulf Coast where flat piney land gives way to sandy, sugar-white beaches. Salt, a ubiquitous present element, like waves, wind and sea, has many uses for coastal people. Many southerners stir sea salt into renowned dishes like Jambalya or Eggplant Josephine. My mom lightly sprinkles salt over fresh watermelon and cantaloupe to balance the sweet. I remember other peculiar (non-culinary) things about salt, too. It invisibly adheres to the sides of shrimp boats, beach towels, sunglasses, and skin. My little brother and I knew to rub salty sand on jelly-fish stings for comfort or to stir salt into warm water to heal sore throats. The list goes on. So the next time you see a chocolate with a little sprinkling of fleur de sel at La Chatelaine Chocolat Co., remember I am just carrying on a southern tradition.

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