How much is too much?

A hot debate is brewing in New York City these days: The mayor, Mike Bloomberg, wants to set guidelines on how much salt restaurants should use in preparing food for customers.

The response from many chefs? No way. If you’ve worked in a kitchen, you know salt is your best friend. It enhances flavors, preserves meats and even makes desserts taste better. At one point in history, salt was such a valued commodity that it was considered gold to many people.

While the mayor’s initiative is only voluntary, some people still think it’s quite ridiculous – especially chefs. One of my school chefs simply laughed when I told him about this new policy bouncing around city hall. “Do people want everything to taste like cardboard?” he asked me.

Yes, I can see why the mayor wants restaurants to hold the salt because if its connection to high blood pressure and other health-related issues.

Here’s the quick rebuttal I’ve heard from chefs at school and those who support them: In restaurants, where chefs actually prepare the food, the amount of salt they use in your pasta dish or that perfectly roasted chicken, the amount of salt is relatively low. It’s the fast-food joints and pre-packaged food that so many Americans love that’s loaded with salt. If people eat food that they or someone else prepare from scratch, this whole salt issue wouldn’t be such a big deal.

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