Tuesday, November 06, 2007

SALT OF THE EARTH


Sicilian sea salt is very, well, wet and comes from the salt pans between Trapani and Marsala. Only ancient, traditional methods are used to produce the salt and it can take 100 days to yield 6 cm of the precious mineral. It has a taste that reminds me of the grey sea salt of Brittany, though it is possibly a little stronger. There is nothing like it to perk up your cooking!


Maybe you can just see, in the photo, that the crystals of the Sicilian salt, on the left, are larger and a little greyer than those of the Welsh sea salt on the right. I like to have my miniature container of Welsh salt around, as I like miniature versions of everything. [Whoa there, Mutley!!]


It is, of course, no accident that Roman soldiers were paid partly in salt - greatly valued as a preservative in those times - and that from sal we derive the word salary. British English has the expressions "worth his salt" [worth what he is paid], "salt away" [to save money] and even, in parts of Wales, "a bit salty" [a bit too expensive].
These were the thoughts that ran through my mind this morning as I was salting, for the last time, the particular batch of olives that I am processing at the moment.

9 comments:

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

Salt mining was considered a vital industry for the Romans.

Both Salzburg and Salisbury are testament to the importance of salt mining back then.

It was a miraculous thing back then- it defeated decay.

Gledwood said...

Do you mean they pan for salt like they pan for gold?... I mean not that it appears in flecks but dries off the pan when kept in the sun or something? How big is this pan?

jmb said...

Interesting Welshcakes. If you want to know even more about salt, there is an excellent book called Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. A bit dry in parts but overall interesting.

Winchester whisperer said...

That's very interesting. I had no idea that was the derivation of salary.

marymaryquitecontrary said...

I didn't realise this. Very interesting Welchcakes.I have seen many salt pans, especially in Brittany

lady macleod said...

I totally understand the value at which salt was placed earlier in history, when it was difficult to obtain. I read a book years ago about the history of salt: much blood and money, and I do understand it. There is a lake in Tibet, Namutso Lake where they go once a year for salt. It is a momentous trek.

Interesting post, as always.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Crushed, you know, I never thought of the connection with Salisbury! - A miraculous product indeed. Hi, Gleds. The pans are sort of shallow pools where the water undergoes a natural process of evaporation to yield the precious salt. They are enormous. Thanks, jmb. That is exactly the kind of book I like to read. Thanks, WW and MM. Thank you, Lady M. I will look up info on that lake in Tibet.

Liz said...

I'm glad you carry a little bit of Wales with you!

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Hi, Liz. And I've got a lovespoon and the words of "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" in my hall...

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