The earliest known town in Europe was built because of me……
Wars were fought over me…….
I used to be worth more than gold……..
You would die without me……..
Too much of me will kill you……
I'm found all over the world…….
You can cook on me, covered in me or with me………
Roman soldiers used to defend me……
I am the most referenced food ingredient in the Oxford dictionary……
I was a strategic military resource…….
I have been used as currency as well as tax…..
I have been used in religious celebrations and sacrifices…..
Superstions about me were depicted by Leonardo Da Vinci……..
People came to Timbuktu for me…….
I'm used more often to de-ice the roads than eaten……..
(Sources: Wikipedia, saltworks.us, chriskresser.com, listverse.com)
By now you have guessed I'm sure. I refer to the common condiment and seasoning we take for granted every day. Without pausing to reflect on the wonderous, violent, profitable, necessary, salubrious and fascinating history of salt, we sprinkle it with scant respect whenever and onto whatever we choose. My business is founded on the wonderful preservation qualities that salt provides and I am still regularly in awe when a piece of meat that is over a year old is transformed into something so delicious.
Today many people have a negative perception of salt. It raises blood pressure, contributes to heart disease, can be found hidden in lots of fast food and highly processed foods and should be consumed sparingly. Our current minister of health has passed legislation to reduce the amount of salt permitted in processed foods. Current bad boys are bread, margarine, butter spreads, stock cubes, soup powders,savory snacks and breakfast cereals.
A professor who I respect and happens to be very controversial for a variety of reasons was recently (and is frequently) quoted as saying “Question everything”. He was referring to current medical opinion on diet but I like to apply the advice to everything. I can quote 9 studies currently that show no link between a low sodium diet and a reduction in heart disease. Don't take my word though, question everything. Go do the research, check your facts and understand what an associative study is before you make up your mind.
Another wonderful use for salt is cooking. I recently was privileged to receive a slab of Himalayan pink salt that is used for cooking. You can heat it up slowly until red hot and then use it to cook steak, vegetables, fish in a manner similar to a hot rock bit better as it seasons the meat perfectly without any added salt.
My current favourite spice rub is Chorizo Salt. I make a mix of smoked paprika, chilli, ground fennel seeds and salt. Use it as a rub, a seasoning for soups and stews, sprinkled on roasted vegetables or even to cure a beautiful piece of fresh tuna. The picture below is a slow roasted pork belly rubbed with Chorizo Salt.