I know what you’re thinking. Salt. Americans love it. By which I mean, LOVE it. The recommended amount of sodium per adult per day is 2300mg, which is probably about the amount in one cup of French onion soup, or two slices of pizza with no toppings. Looking back in my (admittedly quite brief) time cooking for myself on this earth, I can barely comprehend how much salt I unwittingly consumed. My kidneys were probably on the verge of striking.
The problem with salt is that, well, you need it. I mean, you really need it just to exist. Without sodium (one of two components of sodium chloride, or table salt), your neurons wouldn’t be able to fire, your cells would all shrivel up, your tears would be, well, unsalty. Everything in your body would be a complete mess.
That said, you don’t need that much. One milligram of table salt (about 1/1000th of your daily recommended value) has 4.433 x 10^18 sodium ions in it. If that doesn’t mean anything to you, it’s approximately a gajillion (probably more, actually, but I have no idea what 10^18 translates to in math-ese). The point is, a teaspoon of salt a day will keep you going for a looooooong time, unless you’re an ultramarathoner (oh please, I know you’re not). So why put so much in your food?
When I started actually cooking for myself on a regular basis, I decided that I didn’t like how salty most of the food I came across in restaurants was, so I decided not to add any. I chose to believe that if I couldn’t make food flavorful enough, I could always add a little when I served it.
But I never had to. I learned how to use these crazy things called spices and onions and vegetables and butter (I know, I know) and sesame oil, and my food tasted AMAZING. And when I served my friends and neighbors salt-free veggie-and-spice-laden risotto, they all swooned, and none of them asked to pass the salt. I was lord of my kitchen. I was the decider, and I decided salt right out of my recipes.
Since that time of complete salt abolition, I have begun to add a pinch here and there, especially when baking. Salt isn’t just a salty-tasting crystal designed by nature to make you thirsty; it can, used sparingly, be a flavor enhancer. But y’know what? So can cayenne pepper (I’m telling even the most spicy-squeamish of you that a dash can bring out flavors and not cause you pain). So try it for a few weeks. Cut the salt. Go cold turkey. And tell me you’re not happier on the other side.