Racheline and I do our bulk of brainstorming in endless email threads. If it’s not in email, it’s yelling at each other excitedly and really loudly in our Philly office (sorry, other office people) but since that only happens a couple of times a month, usually, it’s in email.
But sometimes, our emails aren’t about character or plot or the multitude of stories we tell each other that will eventually end up on the page. Sometimes they are about the most ridiculous shit.
So we’re starting a new series about the really absurd parts of writing. On Saturdays we’ll round up the most ridiculous shit we’ve talked about all week. Because writing is magic, and cowriting is spooky, but sometimes it’s just funny, and about random food obsessions or intensive research that never even makes it into the final project.
So this week: Sometimes we talk about salt.
We’re in Philadelphia today working on our edits for Starling, and Thursday afternoon we were emailing back and forth about logistics of the trip, literally along the lines of “who’s bringing the snacks?” (Snacks are very important to our working process.) And I got an email from Racheline that read simply: “I will bring the good salt.”
So, the salt. One of our snack staples is nimbu pani, which Racheline introduced to me because her partner introduced it to her during a trip to India. It’s apparently ubiquitous there and the thing you drink so you don’t pass out and die of dehydration when it’s a zillion degrees. It’s also a favorite among the accidental Secret House triad that crashes into each other while they’re filming a movie in India. We make an incredibly suspect version of it with Trader Joe’s margarita mix and lime-flavored seltzer water.
“We have to get good salt!” Racheline declared when we first went to Trader Joe’s to get the ingredients.
“What the hell is good salt?” I asked.
“…What the hell is smoked salt?”
“Good salt. Trust me.”
I am not a foodie. Salt is like, salt, right?
And TJ’s didn’t have smoked salt, but it did have pink Himalayan salt, which Racheline deemed sufficient, so we got that and margarita mix and seltzer and also lots of cheese, and headed back to the office.
It was delicious; we worked another 14 hour day; concluded we needed to get more seltzer next time; and decided to leave the salt in the office kitchen cupboard for the next time we were there; and then we went home.
And the next Saturday we were there, the salt was gone.
Someone had stolen our salt.
Like, use our salt, sure! Finish off the margarita mix we left in the refrigerator all week: Awesome, that’s why we left it there! But who the hell walks off with our good pink Himalayan salt? I mean, it wasn’t even that good. It was from Trader Joe’s! So we were confused and irritated and made a lot of jokes about demons, and the time someone stole our cookies.
That was also the day I discovered that nimbu pani made with non-good salt is, simply, not as good.
But last week we finally got more good salt, and Racheline took it home with her to keep it safe from the salt thieves, which is why, on Thursday, in the midst of running around with our new “Lake Effect” release and trying to find a damn b-plot for another story, we spent a good ten minutes emailing about salt.
That’s a funny story. Nicely done. I’d never given much thought to different kinds of salt before.
You left out one crucial detail– what’s the actual drink recipe? I mean, I know you just listed all the ingredients, but I need ratios here, people!
Oh hey, good point!
Super flexible recipe, so adjust to taste, but somewhere in the range of 1:3 margarita mix: seltzer. What I usually do is fill a glass half full with ice, pour enough margarita mix to cover the ice, then fill the class the rest of the way with seltzer. And then like a pinch/a couple of twists of salt.
And if you half some fresh lime wedges, totally throw those in too!