Salty Sweet

While I’m not a big fan of mixing sweet into savory, I much more often dabble in mixing savory into sweet. The most basic of savory ingredients – salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, spices – can often add an amazing dimension to a menagerie of sweet foods. A little tang, a little spice, a little acid can all be “magic touches” in sweet dishes. But they have to be used judiciously, tactically and sparingly for the effect to be ideal. But employed correctly, and the creativity and magnificence of these tricks are endless.

Yesterday Julia and I bought some gorgeous raspberries, Michigan blueberries and a couple kiwis. We were so tempted by the allure of this amazing fruit that we decided to make a killer fruit salad for dessert. Often people will put sugar over fruit to enhance the sweetness and bring out the natural juices of berries. For me, I think this can be far too much sweet and I start tasting too much sweet and not enough fruit. The juices are nice, but I’ve heard of other ways to render liquid from an ingredient. Don’t gasp. Yes, you guessed it: salt. I’m not talking about your acidic table salt or even kosher salt. I’m talking about sea salt for something as delicate as fruit. I actually pulled out some of my Fleur De Sel de Guerande, a sea-like salt with a mild, intricate, if not dazzling, flavor. I’ve heard it’s even referred to as the champagne of sea salt, and I can see why. Perfect for fruit. I added just the slightest sprinkle over my bowl of raspberries (half pint), blueberries (quarter pint) and kiwi (one, peeled and sliced). Then I tossed the fruit lightly in the bowl and served.

This may have been a bit of a risk – too much and it could have ruined all this perfectly good fruit – but instead it was a home run, clearly the best fruit salad either of us had EVER eaten. I’m not kidding. The de-emphasis on sweet, really emphasized the amazing flavors of the fresh fruit. The salt brought out of the deep richness in the fruits, most notably the raspberries which were just a joy to eat. The salt, rendered out some of the fruits’ juices, adding moisture and texture to the salad. Plus, there was that wonderful slight tang in between the lush of the fruit flavor. It was so delicate that Julia couldn’t even put her finger on exactly what it was, but couldn’t stop raving about my employment of this radical, but now welcome addition to the fruit. Maybe this isn’t for everyone, maybe it isn’t even for every time, but I’d be hard-pressed to find someone that wouldn’t be pleasantly surprised and rather delighted by my salty twist on the sweetness of fruit.

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