I love this video of Linton Hopkins of Restaurant Eugene and Holeman & Finch. It's a brief talk for TED.com entitled "Creativity vs. Chaos." Among other things, it provides one explanation for the obsession with "seasonality" that I questioned in the post below.
Hopkins argues that framing cooking within a season's ingredients compels creativity. Interestingly, he says that may mean the subtraction of classic ingredients as, for example, holding off the olive oil in a caprese salad.
He also discusses the way language affects our perspective on food. He jokes that a dish of pork belly and vegetables that might cost $4 in the South would cost $75 if prepared in France and given a fancy name. He also talks about the consumption of offal.
I find his brief riffs about salt especially interesting. Because I grew up with a father who forbade my mother to cook with salt, I have a hypersensitivity to the stuff, but that also seems to enhance my perception of its different varieties.
I'm most fascinated by salt's metaphorical and symbolic role in human history. "Salt and the Alchemical Soul" is a psychoanalytically oriented text — three essays — I read as part of my doctoral program. One of the essays is by James Hillman who observes, both psychologically and literally:
Society is always in danger of the fervor of salt...The dosage of salt is an art; it must be taken cum grano salis [with a grain of salt], not corrosive, bitter irony and biting sarcasm or fixed, immortal dogmas, but the deft touch which brings out the flavor.
"Salt" is out of print but available from used-book dealers, for scarily high prices.
(H/T Foodie Buddha)
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