Monday, August 27, 2007

Damn you, Erik the Red, and your scheming ways!

So one of my secret weaknesses is looking up fancy pants foodstuff. I may never buy it, but I'm intrigued by it. I happened to be reading about fancy pants salts when my eye caught one particular type of sea salt. Danish Viking-Smoked Salt sold by Salt Traders Inc.

How awesome does that sound? Danish Viking-Smoked Salt. You instantly think of large hulking men asking Odin and Thor to bless their meal before battle as they throw rough sea salt onto their fish and meat. But how does the company describe it?

"Danish Viking-Smoked Salt is made in a style devised by the Vikings." The description starts out. Good so far, right? It's supposed to be based on a "millenium-old tradition" that some dude in Denmark tried to revive. Ooh, even better. Now we're treading arcane practices territory. I'm starting to imagine a some village high priest toiling over an open flame and secret rituals to create these salts for the warriors. Almost like Getafix from The Adventures of Asterix with his magical potion of strength. OK, fine, Asterix was about the Gauls and not Vikings, but cut me some slack here. I don't know, maybe they made these salts to throw into Berserkers' eyes to whip them up into a frenzy. That's not particularly important, I'm just trying to run with the imagery here.

What's this? A "'fizzing (evaporating) process' takes place in a vessel over an open, smoky fire containing juniper, cherry, elm, beech and oak." Shit, now this is practically alchemy. Hmm, it's kind of starting to stray and now I'm thinking more of Paracelsus.

(Does this say 'badass' to you like 'Viking' does? In this portrait he looks like the bastard child of Jack Black and Mama Fratelli from 'The Goonies'. Then again the man was totally into himself and just look at the name he took. Cojones the size of grapefruits.)

Don't get me wrong. Alchemy can still be badass if you want it to be if you're into that whole John Dee and Roger Bacon science treading the occult and things like that. Roger Bacon was known as "Doctor Mirabilis," for crying out loud. It's like some awesome Silver Age supervillain name...and I did not even mean to do that, but there's totally a Dr. Destiny connection in there and I didn't even do it on purpose. Awesome. Anyhow, Full Metal Alchemist fannerds need not apply. I'm sorry, but you to alchemy is what Naruto fans are to ninjitsu. There's nothing wrong with havin' a little fun with it, but some of you take it serious to like Napoleon Dynamite "I got skills" level.

Now here's where this all peters out. So what is the flavor and taste of a salt of such grand tradition? I don't know, I'm thinking it'd have something like a smokiness that harkens back to the wild and untamed flavors reminescent of Scandanavian hinterlands with the free and robust flavor of cold briny waters. Maybe with a hint of ancient mystery. You know, yank my chain a little; milk it for what it's worth. I don't mind a little wankery for something like this. Instead in the grand tradition of one of the earliest possible real estate scams* perpetrated** of a name not living up to the actual product, we get this kind of weak description from Saveur magazine: "tastes like a bonfire."

Oh for fuck's sake. "Tastes like a bonfire"? It's one article away from being a Ralph Wiggum quote. Really? Bonfire? I mean I don't know. Maybe if you quantified it with "of a thousand villages being burned to the ground and pillaged." Right now it just sounds like you're saying this Viking salt tastes like s'mores at a Boyscout Jamboree or maybe even Burning Man.

All right, all right, so bonfires can get pretty huge yes, but my disappointment lies elsewhere. Quite honestly when I was referring to "an open flame and secret rituals" back in paragraph three I was thinking more like...oh I don't know, salts smoked over a Viking funeral.

Seriously. Like some salt discovered at an ancient archeological site of a Viking funeral? Perfectly aged and smoked? Straight up Scandanavian death metal type of shit.

Morbid? Yes. But don't you tell me that it would be entirely incorrect for a burning dead Viking to be involved somewhere when you hear the description of "Viking-smoked." Smoked by Vikings or with techniques commonly attributed to Vikings? Sure, why not. Smoked with dead Vikings? ALSO ACCEPTABLE.

* Not including Biblical favorites like Jezebel orchestrating an elaborate smear tactic that would kill Naboth so that his vineyard would fall into the hands of King Ahab.

**And before I offend any persons of Danish ancestry reading this, let me clarify that Erik the Red was a Norseman of Norway, not Danish. And no offense people of Norway, since I happen to think that swindle took some balls and it goes perfectly with today's theme of "badass", apocryphal or not.


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