Salt of the Earth
History - World Released - Jan 01, 2013
Salt. It’s the rock we eat.
Too much salt can kill you. Not enough can kill you, too. Until recent times, when modern geology literally unearthed the world’s abundance of salt, salt was as good as gold.
Sprinkle it on food. Spend it like money. It was sought after like the Holy Grail.
Everyone was after it.
In ancient times, every Roman city was built near salt works. Rome itself was built in the hills behind a saltworks at the mouth of the Tiber River. Two of the great city-states of the Middle Ages--Venice and Genoa--grew rich by monopolizing the salt trade.
Salt was a form of money. The origin of the word “salary” is salt, as in “worth his salt” and “earning his salt.” The Latin word “sal” became the French word “solde,” meaning pay, which is the origin of the word “soldier.” The Romans salted their greens, which is the origin of the word “salad.”
Salt was put into everything, into cream to make butter, into milk curds to make cheese, and into meat and especially into fish as a preservative. Salt brine made olives palatable and ham delectable. Salt was used as fertilizer to increase yield, and in time of war--used in large quantity--it would destroy crops. The ancient Egyptians used salt to mummify bodies. In the middle ages, salt was used to cure leather, clean chimneys, solder pipes, and as medicine to cure a number of ailments.
Thousands of years of coveting, fighting over, hoarding, taxing, and forever searching for salt seems somehow foolish today. But is it any more foolish than coveting, fighting over, hoarding, taxing, and forever searching for oil?
Can’t get enough salt? Read “Salt: A World History” by Mark Kurlansky.