I’ll be honest, I would have purchased The Reluctant Trading Experiment salt and pepper for many reasons, none of them having to do with the taste. I first discovered them via my friends at Chai Pilgrimage. I watched the video:
that has since gone viral and fell for the story. I fell for the idea of leaping into something headfirst because I was at a point in my life where I knew I needed to do the same. (I wrote about it here) Then came the website, design and packaging. Owner Scott is no rookie when it comes to business, he founded Land of Nod from his garage in 1996 and sold the company to Crate and Barrel in 2010. Pretty incredible story in and of itself! But, I love aesthetics and even really good companies can seem over branded nowadays. The imagery and text and overall feel of RTE just seemed so authentic, playful and honest.
Then there was the lure of the exotic locations. India and Iceland are where they harvest the award winning black peppercorns and sea salt and happen to be two of my very top travel dreams so this only fueled the fire.
Finally, I was curious. After months of exploring spices and seasonings, I was reading seriously raving reviews about Scott’s products. I was enchanted by the idea of two such elemental products, that at one time were the cause of wars, global trade routes and power struggles which have since been relegated ( often ) to powdered afterthoughts. Ask any early explorer or Nepali yak farmer about the value of salt and pepper and you may have a whole new appreciation for this dynamic duo.
Salt and Pepper are ubiquitous, but how often do we actually think about their origin, or their importance? Every tiny diner, every truck stop, every luxury hotel has them in one form or another. I was curious about the these but truthfully wasn’t expecting anything life changing.
Of course, I was wrong.
The package arrived at my house and in a flurry of photo taking ( the life of an aesthetics lover and spice blogger :)) I unwrapped the hand stamped brown paper parcels and dug in. I popped a single black peppercorn into my mouth and a bouquet of floral heat unfurled. I knew these peppercorns were different before they even touched my tongue, the smell open opening the bags is exquisite and they are beautiful specimens of this special plant, black and plump, the surface like tiny landscapes of a dark moon or shadowed canyon.
Then came the salt. I’d read previously that one reviewer actually had taken to snacking on the crumbly flakes, an amuse bouche all on their own! I did the same and was impressed by their saline sweetness.
Now, am I going overboard? It would seem that way but truly, these two products inspired me, and that’s what I love about them.
Something as simple and salt and pepper are easy to overlook but when such an everyday product is elevated by selection, careful growth and admirable practices ( All RTE products are certified organic and fair-trade, and yes it does matter: you can read more about why here and here) that is nothing less than poetic.
Now, I have rambled so long that I just might save the recipes for another post, but today I enjoyed the simplest soft boiled duck egg with a pinch and a turn of these two products. I use the pepper in my chai masala and the salt on pretty much anything I can get away with. I made an excellent drink the other day that I’ll share here soon, Indian lemonade with Icelandic vodka. Indian lemonade is a spicier versions of our own and serves as a cooling beverage with black pepper salt and mint in the hot Indian summer. These two spices really made it sing.
So there you have it a company who inspires me in every aspect, from start to finish, packaging to product. Now, are these products cheap? No. But should they be? Understanding the labor practices and the amount of work that goes into our food and spices especially when it is with the care that these are, helps to eliminate any doubt of whether or not it is a “good deal”. Cheap labor and pesticides really don’t help anyone, in the big picture or the long run. Companies like RTE are helping to sustain a cycle and I wish more companies would do the same, I like to think we are heading that way as a civilization and seeing the value in investing in each other and the pace we share.
Lastly, this is an absolutely un-sponsored and unsolicited endorsement. I did get free shipping but you can to when you sign up for their email list on Facebook :)
The last four photos in the series or from RTE Facebook or website, I highly suggest trying both their products, and if you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Enjoy these podcasts from The Food-Craftsmen with Scott and learn more about the RTE story.