Back in January, my younger sister Raina went off on one of those birthright trips to Israel. Before she left, she asked if there was anything she could bring back for me. Never having been to Israel and uncertain about the specialties of the country, I asked for the first thing that popped into my head. Salt. I’m not exactly sure why I thought Israel was a destination for good salt, but off she flew, determined to bring me back some salt.
Raina’s been on tour lately and pulled into Philly late Saturday night, with another musician named Rebecca, a car full of dirty laundry and a plastic take-out container filled with salt, tied up in a small plastic grocery bag. As she handed it over, she apologized, explaining that she didn’t think it was particularly good salt, but it was the best she had been able to find. On one of the last days of the trip, they had gone to an open air market. One man had a table, set with various containers of spices, herbs and finally, salt. The merchant hadn’t spoken any English, but a couple standing next to her helped with the bargaining and she ended up spending the equivalent of $3 American for the squat tub of salt.
Even before I opened it, I told her that more than anything, I appreciated the simple fact that she had kept me in mind while traveling and had added weight to her suitcase with my request. Then I pulled the lid off the container and encountered the most gorgeous, moist, perfect grey salt. I ran to the kitchen and pulled down the jar where I’ve kept my stash of precious grey salt, purchased in a 12 ounce bag for a ridiculous sum. Showing them to her side-by-side, I explained just how well she had done by her foodie sister. She grinned and gave me a hug. I love both my sister and my new supply of Israeli grey salt.
I’ve done some internet searching, and haven’t been able to find out much about salt production in Israel. For all I know, this is French grey salt, imported to the Middle East and then repackaged for sale. If anyone knows more, I’d be happy to be informed!
I wonder if it could be Dead Sea salt? A friend once brought me a myriad of Dead Sea bath salts from Israel.
Monika, that sounds like a really good guess. I bet you’re right.
Actually, Israel produces a lot of salt, and most of the commonly available Israeli salt is sea salt (from the dead sea). Specifically, the salt your sister had bought you is not Israeli-mined. The label says that it’s “Atlantic salt”.
The other salts (the pyramid shaped ones) *are* Israeli; they are flavored salts (charcoal, rosemary, smoked, unflavored).
Boaz, thanks so much for translating and uncovering the mystery of the salt my sister brought back. I’m a little bummed to learn that she didn’t manage to bring me Israel salt (the dangers of not speaking/reading Hebrew), but I still appreciate the offering and the energy she put in to make it happen.
so where does one find gray salt around here? that’s what I grew up using, yet I’ve never seen it in the market in Philly.
I know it seems unlikely, but I found gray salt at T.J. Max and it tastes great!