Thursday, February 28, 2013

Lac Assal, Djibouti

photo by Todd Katschke

When in Djibouti, be sure to visit Lac Assal. It is the lowest point in Africa, third lowest depression on earth, the world's largest salt reserve, and the world's 2nd most saline body of water.

Translation: The water is crystal clear and you float--- like really float-- as in sit a child on your stomach and you still float high without effort, and you'd better bring extra water for rinsing off because it is so salty that your entire body becomes covered in salt crystal as soon as you start to dry.

The other thing to do at Lac Assal is collect salt pearls and salt crystals.  They make great natural art for home.  These Djibouti salt pearls are so unusual that they were featured on Salt News (I know, the fact that there is a news blog dedicated to gourmet salt is amazing to me too).   According to Salt News, you can  

"serve Djibouti Boule in a gimlet, using gin from the freezer and adding the salt ball at the last minute.  You then drink in a race against the dissolving salt.  Or wrap a Djibouti Boule with ground lamb, egg, breadcrumbs, and herbs and do meat-encrusted salt balls, meating your salt instead of salting your meat is not just witty, it’s delicious, and plays with the cooking time and texture of the food in interesting ways.  Or just enjoy the tactile pleasure they offer.  I keep a bowl of the on desk and roll them around between my fingers when I’m trying to figure something resistant to figuring, like what to do with Djibouti Boule. Roll some Djibouti Cutie around a plate with more angular geometries of sashimi, or melon, or what have you.  Perch some atop a beet and goat cheese salad for visual drama and textural intimidation (the crystals are actually somewhat soft, but seem hard as marbles). Scatter grilled or broiled seafood with Djibouti Pearl. Let some intermingle with the juices of a steak, a lobster salad, or what the heck, an oyster. Djibouti Dew is effectively a sprinkling salt.  It has an elusive, but ultimately hard and in your face intensity that makes it suitable for spicy foods found anywhere from Thailand to Madagascar to Peru to Mexico."

See that white stuff? It's not foam; it's salt crystals

collecting salt beads

Taylor collecting salt beads; photo by Stuart Denyer

Salt pearls; photo by Todd Katschke

A BBC news corespondent also did an article on Lac Assal, but it is a bit of a downer,  and I promised you posts about the enjoyable parts of life in Djibouti, so I'll just mention it in passing. 

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