Give Me Sodium or Give Me Death

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

The author is the chef at Prune

I’m a restaurant chef. I’m good at salt. I like it on my toast, my chocolate, my ice cream, my toothpaste, even my water— I prefer club soda to seltzer, because the sodium mitigates the throat burn of the carbonation. Salt appears in or on all fourteen items of the savory menu at my restaurant, and in or on the cheesecake, the oatmeal tuile, the chocolate meringue, the malted cream, the caramel sauce, and the puff pastry on my dessert menu. I tend to use less salt during cooking so as not to alter the inherent flavor of the ingredients, and much more salt when finishing, to season and also to add texture. Salt makes everything it touches taste more like itself—from an egg to a steak to a tomato.

It’s true that a lot of New Yorkers are very unhealthy, suffer from hypertension and high blood pressure, and simply do not know to eat, drink, smoke, or consume onion rings in moderation. This is serious and sad. But I’m skeptical of the mayor, with his eliminationist approach to highly seasoned food, fried food, and sugary sodas. If the administration eliminates what we need and crave, will we start to crave it more?

There is one item on my dessert menu I’ve held off putting salt on—the cold candied oranges. I don’t know why. Maybe I’ll add a pinch the next time I cook them.

Give Me Sodium or Give Me Death