Salt takes many forms. Kosher salt has a cleaner salinity than its iodized counterpart. Fleur de sel is distinguished by a bright, robust brininess, whereas mineral-rich gray salt is more muted. From a collective of sauniers, or salt harvesters, on Île de Ré, a small island off the western coast of France, comes a limited run of large-grain gray salt, or gros sel. Whereas fleur de sel ($25) is harvested from the surface of salt basins, gray salt forms at the bottom and is dredged up by sauniers.
Available exclusively through Stories+Objects, a travel-oriented storytelling project, the salt is harvested by Brice Collonier, a member of the 60-person salt-harvesting collective Les Sauniers de l’Île de Ré. The region’s tradition of cultivating salt dates back to the 12th century, but was lost to industrial production methods and has only recently been revived.
Sold in a hand-thrown, hand-painted porcelain salt cellar by California-based ceramicist Roberto Carillo, the gros sel is a product of nature — grown at the whim of weather, winds, water and temperatures — reaped by Collonier, and best sprinkled atop an impeccably cooked steak, fresh vegetables or simply buttered toast.
Related Reading: “The Art of Sea Salt” on Stories+Objects
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