NaCl – Love and Pride


By: Ann Brown

I’m done with supermarket sushi. It’s expensive and it always makes me sick.

Of course, it could be the shitload of wasabi I put on it. Or the fact that I often eat it only hours after having my morning coffee, which does me in anyway. Strong coffee is the sharp, bold bad boy lover I cannot leave. And wasabi is hot, unprotected sex with him that leaves me sweaty and unable to breathe and wanting more.

I come from a bland cuisine people. We had to be. We are wanderers by nature, and couldn’t be held back by sensitive colons needing “just ten more minutes” in the bathroom tent, or we’d never get any wandering done.

On the other hand, maybe that’s why it took us forty fucking years to cross over a couple of miles of desert.

“Okay, let’s go, people! Moses is getting pissed.”

“Um…Aaron? Can you stall him a little longer? Hide his staff or something? Some asshole put cayenne peppers into the matzo last night and, oy, am I gefucked up.”

And that’s the story of how Jews wound up with a nice piece of boiled chicken and a few steamed carrots as the dinner we will eat for the rest of our lives. Except at passover, when we commemorate our liberation from slavery by stinking up our houses with gefilte fish. Because, I guess, as free people, we can. Although in my opinion, eating gefilte fish is more like something Pharaoh would have forced us to do when we were his slaves. As a punishment for slacking off on the pyramid construction site or something.

Leave it to my people to finally be free and what do we choose to celebrate with? Boiled fish. Party on.

My mother didn’t know from spices, didn’t even know that salt was used for cooking until about ten minutes ago. Growing up, we had the same blue cardboard carton of Morton’s for at least eleven years, from Kindergarten to high school. My mom didn’t know what to put it on. All we ever used it for was to perform horrific death experiments on slugs. Karen and I were the junior Dr. Mengele’s of the slug world when we were young, something – I am certain – that is going to come back to bite me in the afterlife. My luck, in the afterlife slugs are king. And vengeful. I fully expect to be sentenced by slugs to spend the afterlife under a mountain of salt. Which will be kinda tasty at first, because I was raised with such a dearth of it, and especially if I can find a baked potato or something around there. But then my blood pressure will go up and I will have no potassium with which to counteract the sodium. And I will die. Again.

Note to self: pack a banana for the afterlife.

“What makes this broccoli SO delicious?” Mom asks me when she visits.

“Salt.” I say.

Then she looks at me in a way that I imagine Prometheus’ mom looked at him when the first spark of fire appeared in his hands.

“Salt.” She repeats reverently. Ah, yes. Salt.

And then she goes home to LA and forgets about it until she comes up to visit me the next time and I wow her again with my secret ingredient.

The bar is set pretty low for culinary excellence in my family. I am not a good cook; in fact, my kids are probably the only ones who went away to college and raved about the delicious food in the dorm commons.

I bet those cooks knew about salt.

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