- 2009 | Cum Grano Salissalt set - centerpiece
- Year: 2009
Design: Giovanni Alessi Anghini e Lorenzo Piccione di Pianogrillo
Consulenza: Fabio Fassone
Status: in production
A tray, four containers for salt, a tower for fragrant herbs, a mortar, and a pestle that also serves as a spoon. This project was begun in early 2008, when Fabio Fassone, accompanied by Lorenzo Piccione di Pianogrillo, met Alberto Alessi to tell him the history of salt. I had the good fortune to be present at that meeting.
I was fascinated as I listened to Fabio describe the discovery of salt and its importance in the history of mankind, and of course immediately seized the chance to give form to the passion I heard in his words.
But I couldn’t just design a simple saltcellar. I decided that this new object would play a major role on my table: it had to become an integral part of the food- sharing process, that moment of family togetherness so important to Italians. Working on the design with Lorenzo and Fabio, we realized that classical salt shakers and salt grinders would be unable to emphasise the importance of different types of salt and their grain sizes, so we opted for a mortar and pestle, almost for individual use, with explicit reference to the tradition of preparing typical Italian cuisine. In addition, the presence of a small mortar on the table, used to prepare one’s own salt and mixes of salts and spices, would introduce an element of play and creative sharing in the meal. The spice-holder tray would make
the project more than a simple saltcellar satisfying a practical need (i.e., serving salt at the table): I wanted this “Salt set” to be an integral part of the table’s architecture, an object that would live not only at mealtime, but as a real centrepiece.
Giovanni Alessi Anghini
When we asked ourselves what a modern saltcellar should do, it was immediately obvious that “contain salt” was the obsolete concept to be overcome. It also seemed that the saltcellar, due to its shape and technique, was often one of the least attractive objects on modern tables. Impractical, often ugly, just passive. As if the gradual loss in the value of salt (once called White Gold) had caused an equal drop in creativity, a loss of interest in its expressive potential. And yet, as many magnificent saltcellars remind us, table salt deserves great esteem, not only as a precious ingredient, but also for its many symbolic values.
Tasting different salts is always a big surprise, because there are so many types: every sea has its own salt, consisting of dozens of noble trace elements in different percentages, depending on the seawaters from which it is formed by evaporation. Each salt also has different grains: flakes, pyramidal crystals, cubes, concaveand convex, hard or fragile. Miracles of nature that are essential for life. A world of a thousand colours, textures, and tastes. More than ever, chefs and gourmets use salt as a quality ingredient that contributes to the final result of the dish. Unrefined, still harvested by hand, quality artisanal salt keeps its ancient value on the table and should be contained and seen in a beautiful saltcellar. Since every pinch of salt is different, our project is a tribute to the world’s salts, which can be selected according to one’s taste, the menu, or by following the chef’s advice. It will be easy to see that fish, meat, salad, or even good bread dipped in extra virgin olive oil gives its best when matched with the right salt.
Our idea was to create an object that would enhance the use of fine salts from different salinas: a centrepiece that could be seen as a set for each table-companion even with the most demanding settings. In addition (and this is a pleasant diversion), our saltcellar plays a new role at the table. A few grains of pepper, a lemon peel and a rosemary needle, red pepper and excellent, unrefined sea salt. You add the fantasy, and the mortar and pestle will evoke ancient movements, tempting you to grind your fragrant mixture on the wave of inventiveness and the scent of the sea. Perhaps recalling your most recent voyage to admire the vast panoramas that nature and
salinas scattered in the pristine corners of the earth can offer.
Giovanni Alessi Anghini
Lorenzo Piccione di Pianogrillo