Brian Edwards Media

Salt Lovers of the World Unite!

I’m Irish. The Irish are great salt-eaters. We also like fat. Our favourite dish, the ‘Ulster Fry’, often served for breakfast, dinner and tea – breakfast, lunch and dinner for your toffee-nosed English – consists of bacon (fried or grilled), eggs (fried) and potato or soda bread (fried). A mouth-watering combination of fat, salt and carbohydrate. And, to be sure to be sure, the whole doused with more salt.

According to nutritionists, this is a highly unhealthy and potentially fatal diet. There are two reasons for ignoring these warnings. First, there can be few occupations so discredited as that of the nutritionist.  Can you think of any other group of ‘experts’ whose advice today will be precisely the opposite of their advice yesterday and their advice tomorrow? And second, had the Irish diet been so unhealthy, the race would have died out decades and even centuries ago, when in fact we have populated the globe with our offspring of saints, scholars and American presidents.

If there is a problem with salt, it is not that it hardens the arteries, my own arteries being as pliant as the bottom of a new-born babe, but that owners of cafes and restaurants are involved with nutritionists in a puritan conspiracy to prevent diners like myself from adding piquancy to their otherwise bland and tasteless meals.  

This is achieved in one of three ways: by proffering small dishes of rock-salt  which is both unhygienic and impossible to sprinkle; by  providing ceramic salt shakers with holes so small the tiniest known particle of matter could not pass through;  or by having shakers with screw-on metal tops, whose microscopic apertures are so caked with damp salt  and rice particles that nothing at all comes out.  

Worst of all are cafe and restaurant proprietors who seek to humiliate salt-lovers by not putting salt on their tables at all, so that one is forced to loudly summon a member of their myopic wait-staff and suffer the disapproving stares of other diners.

At an Indian restaurant in Balmoral one night, I asked the waitress if I could have some salt. She looked bewildered and disappeared into the kitchen. Less than 30 seconds later, a formidable Indian woman, whom I took to be the owner/chef. appeared, marched up to  our table and demanded, ‘What is needing salt?’ When, cowering in my seat, I failed to answer, she said, ‘Nothing is needing salt,’ and stormed away.

To make matters worse, salt is not as salty as it used to be. A nutritionist I mentioned this to recently could only come up with the preposterous suggestion that the problem was with me not with the salt. The salt was just as salty as ever. I’d taken so much that I simply couldn’t taste it. I was an addict whose craving could no longer be satisfied.

I can tell you that I took that with a grain of salt. Quite clearly there is a sinister  international plot to dilute salt with some other flavourless ingredient which will doubtless one day be discovered to be carcinogenic. To paraphrase the Bible, the salt has lost its savour and wherewith shall it be salted?

It will not do. Salt lovers of the world unite!  You are the salt of the earth. Come out of the closet. Do not be ashamed. Demand your saline rights Douse, douse and douse again.  Let our war-cry be; Shake Till You Ache!

And finally this. Even if salt does harden the arteries, it’s a helluva lot cheaper than Viagra for the same effect. Think on!

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41 Comments:

  1. Crispy Bacon Tip. It seems that since bacon became sugar-cured it is hard to cook to a crisp. So boil it it water for 1-2 minutes, then fry it. (I think it gets rid of the sugar.) Turns out just like what my mother used to cook.

  2. Hello, my name is Barbara and I’m a saltoholic…baconoholic and eggoholic.

    I salt everything…including the bacon!

  3. “by having shakers with screw-on metal tops”

    Well my experience is that the metal top usually falls off leaving you with more than enough salt on your plate.

    Your description of ‘Ulster Fry’ (sausages and black pudding would make it even better) for breakfast, lunch and dinner (I am English) made my mouth water. Regrettably I have to some extent been sucked in by nutritionist propaganda (or my wife has) and ‘Ulster Fry’ sounds far superior to broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and all these ghastly healthy vegetable with which I am confronted on a daily basis.

    Incidentally how do you know your arteries are so pliant? Being a hypochondriac I asked my GP whether there was any way of finding out the condition of my arteries and he more or less said he would have to kill me to find out.

  4. Hi Brian,

    I just want to point out the valuable distinction between Nutritionists and Dietitians. Anyone can call themselves a Nutritionist, but to be a dietitian working in a hospital you need the relevant tertiary medical qualifications as well as an annual practising certificate and registration under the same piece of legislation that covers doctors and nurses.

    By all means be very critical of so called nutritionists who write for women’s magazines and appear on TV ads, but please, when you’re in hospital and you’re sick, take your dietitian seriously.

    • By all means be very critical of so called nutritionists who write for women’s magazines and appear on TV ads, but please, when you’re in hospital and you’re sick, take your dietitian seriously.

      I won’t be in hospital. I’m pickled in brine and immune to disease.

  5. Agreed Brian.

    To quote PJ O’Rourke (approx) “Salt improves the taste of all food and keeps your blood pressure up to the pace of modern life”

  6. mmmm salt.
    just brought that and black pudding for lunch.
    my Liverpuddlian dad inculcated me in the tradition of the big fry up.
    i accepted the reported facts about injurious salt use and for fifteen years I never applied it – trained recently as a chef and now its in everything (same with butter).
    seems I’m gonna be able to taste my death (it helped to quit smoking).
    salt glorious salt, black pepper and mustard! (sung to the tune of Food, glorious food!)
    thanks for the par-boiling tip re – the modern bacon ianmac
    ever just biffed into the deep fryer? naughty

  7. Being a lover of salt I paid $17.00 to see a movie about salt the other day, it was in fact called “Salt” to my horror the movie had nothing at all to do with salt as I knew it to be, I of course wrote into complain about the false advertising, I have yet to hear back.

    • Being a lover of salt I paid $17.00 to see a movie about salt the other day, it was in fact called “Salt” to my horror the movie had nothing at all to do with salt as I knew it to be,

      Appalling deception, I agree. And not a very good movie, I understand. Mind you, an hour and a half of Angela Jolie…

  8. Brian, a lovely post, although I must take issue with your description of the peerless Ulster Fry. When I lived in Ballymena, in addition to the frankly anorexic assemblage listed above, there were invariably mushrooms, pork sausages, black pudding, white pudding, fried potatoes and fadge, all glistening in lard, the condiment of kings.

    As to the salt shakers, I can’t agree more. And what’s with vinegar in this benighted country? If you ask for it, it comes in a receptacle with such a wide mouth that any attempt to add some piquancy to one’s fried comestibles ends up in torrents of the stuff splashing all over the plate, table and one’s lap.

    As for the bacon, I get mine (along with my sausages, black/white pudding etc) from the Westmere Butchery – exquisite; and it crisps up beautifully under the grill. Sadly, grilling it leaves no bacon fat to soak into my fried bread, but such are the sacrifices we must make for a longer life…

    • As for the bacon, I get mine (along with my sausages, black/white pudding etc) from the Westmere Butchery – exquisite; and it crisps up beautifully under the grill. Sadly, grilling it leaves no bacon fat to soak into my fried bread, but such are the sacrifices we must make for a longer life…

      We’re also fans of the marvellous Westmere Butchery. As for all those extra ingredients in the Ulster Fry, I really didn’t want to frighten the natives.

  9. Fair enough BE. And I forgot to mention the tomato, the “healthy” element. And occasionally beans. God, I’m famished now just thinking on it.

  10. Of greater concern to me is cafes that do not have a pepper grinder.
    Ready ground peopper or fake pepper dust has a completly different taste – faintly nasel-waste like, no bite, but it makes me sneeze. It will ruin a perfectly good egg.

    But a egg without pepper being ground onto them via a pepper grinder (it must be wooden, I dont care for the plastic ones or even the glass ones with the annoying battery powered motor that grinds the pepper corns)

    The grinder should be at least 10 inchs in height, preferablly 12. A 4 inch wooden pepper grinder is a insult to the customer, it shows they dont care enough to spend the extra $20 for you to fully enjoy your eggs.
    The wood should be stained a dark colour, a light stained wooden grinder denotes ground salt which is annoying at the best of times.

    When I ask for a grinder and they say they do not have one, well naturally my heart breaks, I have just spent $15.00 on two perfectly good eggs on toast with bacon & tomato ..now I am unable to enjoy them to my full satisfaction, their value has dimished. It saddens me also as I will be unable to frequent that cafe again, this will no doubt sadden the propreitor and his/her bank manager. Its lose-lose.

  11. Supercalo – Wow, that’s perfectionism! I’m just happy if they cafe involved has managed to find a cook who can avoid the hideous (and hideously common) offering that is the snotty egg. I mean, how hard is it to fry a feckin’ egg?

    • Supercalo – Wow, that’s perfectionism! I’m just happy if they cafe involved has managed to find a cook who can avoid the hideous (and hideously common) offering that is the snotty egg. I mean, how hard is it to fry a feckin’ egg?

      It is not hard to fry a ‘feckin’ egg. It is however, difficult to make a perfectly poached egg – yoke soft, white firm, and a pleasing shape. Judy has mastered that art. One tip is that the water must be deep enough. I am the master of the boiled egg (yoke runny, white firm) and I NEVER fail. I also make to-die-for creamy scrambled eggs. I will reveal that secret: obscene amounts of butter, no milk, beaten eggs (a little grated cheese can be nice), pinch of salt. Low heat, stir often. Watchpoint: scrambled eggs go on cooking in their own heat after you take them off the gas. Take them off before they’re quite ready or you end up with dry eggs.

  12. Salt like many other great things in life, addicts us to its taste.My advice is to go cold turkey for a week and see what a fully salted meal tastes like then.Salt, more salt ,and more salt again is a recipe for disaster.You may have already pasted the point of no return.

  13. Don very hard it seems.
    I know someone who is a maître’d at a very good resturant, he is afraid to order eggs when he goes out (despite the fact he loves them) as he is invariably disappointed, its a ordeal to hear him ordering them, but regardless of how long he explains just how he wants them done he is nearly always disappointed & of course his complaints are even more of a ordeal to listen to than the ordering.

  14. My little Irish mother used to make Soda Bread whenever the milk went sour. That would also have to be bad for your arteries since it is the sodium ions that are supposed to be bad for your health. That is why you can buy salt which contains a mixture of sodium chloride and potassium chloride.

    • My little Irish mother used to make Soda Bread whenever the milk went sour. That would also have to be bad for your arteries since it is the sodium ions that are supposed to be bad for your health. That is why you can buy salt which contains a mixture of sodium chloride and potassium chloride.

      I’ll try it, Edward, but my experience to date is that only salt tastes like salt.

  15. You still have not explained your confidence in the state of your arteries. For the sake of medical science the world deserves to be told.

    • You still have not explained your confidence in the state of your arteries. For the sake of medical science the world deserves to be told.

      I’m sorry, that information is priviliged.

  16. My naturapath recommended “No Salt” salt….I don’t really see the point, it’s like calling a rod of Quorn a sausage…it isn’t.

  17. Edward, according to my own sainted mammy, sour milk is the devil’s whiskey. Buttermilk only for soda, or in the absence of that, fresh milk with a spoonful of vinegar added.

  18. Can’t they leave anything alone. My local Fish & Chip shop offers the alternative of “chicken salt”!
    Why would you want the ruin the pure simplity of piping hot chips smothered in salt – unless it is to wrap said chips in fresh white bread, dripping with butter!

  19. A man was staying at a Belfast hotel. For breakfast he ordered a modified Ulster Fry. ‘I’d like two fried eggs,’ he told the waitress, ‘some bacon, some tomatoes and some fried bread. But I don’t want any sausages.’

    A few minutes later, the waitress returned and placed a plateful of fried food in front of the man. In the middle of the plate there were two sausages. The man called the waitress back. ‘Can you take this away and bring me what I asked for,’ he said. ‘I specifically said that I didn’t want any sausages.’

    The waitress took the plate and headed in the direction of the kitchen. A couple of minutes later she returned with the same plate of food. ‘Chef says the sausages are mandatory.’

    • A man was staying at a Belfast hotel. For breakfast he ordered a modified Ulster Fry. ‘I’d like two fried eggs,’ he told the waitress, ‘some bacon, some tomatoes and some fried bread. But I don’t want any sausages.’

      I can almost believe this story. Chefs can be dictators. While I was on Fair Go, we had a complaint about a Dunedin restaurant. The customer asked for a well-done steak, which was how he liked it. The chef said it was aginst his culinary principles to cook a steak well done. The customer was told to go somewhere else. There was viewer support for both sides of the argument.

  20. I agree with the freshly ground pepper on eggs.

  21. “Why would you want the ruin the pure simplity of piping hot chips smothered in salt – unless it is to wrap said chips in fresh white bread, dripping with butter!”

    There are few experiences more childishly brilliant than demolishing a chip butty while the butter runs down your forearms.

    Thank you Brian for this topic, as it has given me an outlet for thoughts I could never, ever share with my doctor.

  22. Hi, I’m afraid I would include Dietitians along with Nutritionists. My mother-in-laws diet, while in Wellington hospital recovering from cancer surgery, was rubbish, absolute rubbish. I presume that it was planned by hospital Dietitians. Google “The (Political) Science of Salt” by Gary Taubes. Then the next time you reach for the salt, you can relax and enjoy the salty taste. Jayne

  23. Perhaps someone can explain why the salt content is never listed on food labels, only sodium.
    You’d have to be a chemist to work out how much salt you’re ingesting.

  24. @ Cav39. Maybe because maufacturers of processed foods don’t want you to know they use sodium mono-glutamate to enhance the flavours in their product. It is the sodium ions which apparently cause the medical problems.
    Brian doesn’t like salt all that much, especially biscuits made by a child who mistook the salt for sugar. Brian also wont like the Sodium low salt that contains a good content of potassium chloride. I bought some recently, out of curiosity, and found it to be the proverbial salt that hath lost its savour.

    • Brian doesn’t like salt all that much, especially biscuits made by a child who mistook the salt for sugar.

      What a sneaky ratbag he is, revealing all on national radio. In defence of my grandson Johnny, it was actually his dippy nana who made the mistake.

      Note to self: put salt and sugar in very different containers!

      My moment of satisfaction? Greedy (diabetic) Grandad had to sample a biscuit when it was almost too hot to touch – and was therefore the only person to experience the true horror of the Salt and Raisin biscuit!

  25. I’ll relate a true story on the topic of salt replacing sugar: I decided to give a new cafe in Wellington a try. All went well until I had a sip of my tea. Yikes, there was a huge and obvious problem. I had innocently stirred salt into my tea instead of sugar. I quietly summoned the waitress and explained the problem. “Jason!!” she yelled at the top of her voice towards the other wait person present. “Another customer is complaining about the salt in the sugar bowls!!”.

  26. Enough talk of salt; let’s get onto Paul Henry’s comments regarding the Governor General.

  27. Yes, an easy enough mistake to make. I have ruined many a good cup of expresso coffee by mistaking my friend’s saltcellar with its spoon as the sugar bowl. The unexpected flavour is quite a shock.
    Diabetes is a condition that has to be carefully monitored. My father had undiagnosed diabetes and after retiring at 72 years of age became tired and bored and no doubt didn’t get the exercise that his working day required. As a result he suffered a stroke at 74 years which worsened and rendered him to a vegetative state. A family decision had to be made to halt all life support processes and he died from starvation in the familiar surroundings of his home. Considering his own efforts to detatch himself from machinery keeping him alive, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.
    Growing old was never something that he looked foreward to and he may well have feared that in old age he might start thinking that people like George W Bush and Rush Limbaugh weren’t quite half as bad as he thought. By the way, I see that John Banks has an outbreak of leopard spots again.

  28. oh dear oh dear,
    bad news about the ulster fry. having just returned from belfast – my native city – I was looking forward to our famed delicacy (?), not having been there since 1986. sad to relate,the ulster fry is not what it was.horror of horrors,every food establishment which offered it merely reheated pre fried potato bread in a microwave.(!) which in a more enlightened society would be a hanging offence,as everyone knows tattey bread is the very heart of an ulster fry,and MUST be pan fried in bacon gravy and so served. dear oh dear,is nothing sacred.
    and salt threatened by nutritionists does nothing to improve my humour.exploding population,diminishing resources,climate crisis……salt should be the least of our worries.
    on the other hand,if we are eventually driven to cannibalism (perish the thought)perhaps we could eat the nutritionists first.
    well salted of course.

    • on the other hand,if we are eventually driven to cannibalism (perish the thought)perhaps we could eat the nutritionists first. well salted of course.

      Well salted nutritionists – yum!

  29. Not quite sure how I missed the salt post. No surprises in me loving salt I suppose – not with my name anyway! :)

    I watched my father and grandfather salt everything twice – I recall when mum “went healthy” and stopped adding salt to the potatoes while they cooked, forcing us to add extra at the table. It just will not do!

    I don’t stop my kids from adding salt – in fact like a good mother I encourage the use of iodized table salt. (no goiters here)

    As for restaurants who don’t have salt on the table… that’ll be what the salt shaker in my purse is for. :)

  30. Aha! Late-breaking news update!
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/wellbeing/4264994/Low-salt-diet-benefits-debunked