Wed 1 Feb 2012
My love of salt is well document throughout the posts of Lost Cowboy, I love the stuff and my pantry contains about a dozen or so varieties of salt as I type. So you can imagine how excited I was to pick up the book Salt – A World History by Mark Kurlansky.
Mr. Kurlansky had written a book, Cod, about the great fish that shaped the development of the new world – the northeast US and the Maritime provinces of Canada in particular, and I found it fascinating. So I knew when I picked up Salt I was in for a treat, and I was not disappointed.
About Salt – A World History: “Mark Kurlansky, the bestselling author of Cod and The Basque History of the World, here turns his attention to a common household item with a long and intriguing history: salt. The only rock we eat, salt has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions. Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Kurlansky’s kaleidoscopic history is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece.”
In this modern world in which we live, we take a lot for granted for how we got to this point in human progress. We don’t give salt a second thought, except maybe to demonize it these days. Seldom do we stop to think about how our salt got to our table and never much about salt’s place in world history.
Societies were created by the cultivating and trade of salt and its place in history as a commodity and currency is surprisingly fascinating. All of which is explored in this relatively brief and informative book.
Mr. Kurlansky presents an uncommonly well researched and accessible history of one of the most common substances on earth. Reading this book, Salt – A World History – has made me appreciate more than ever the little white substance that has flavored my life.