I’ve been reading Mark Kurlansky’s book “Salt”. I’m about halfway through, so I don’t know who the killer is yet; don’t spoil it for me. It’s basically a world history, through the medium of salt, or rather it’s a salt-coated world history. Or rather, it’s a history of the world, spattered with tenuous links to the importance of salt. It’s interesting, sure, but it could do with some pepper.
The rise of of the Celts? Salt. The cornerstone of Chinese civilization? Salt. Great Pyramids of Egypt? Salt. The paid armies of Imperial Rome? Salt. Etymology of half the words in English, and every other language for that matter? Salt. JFK? Salt. The Beatles? Salt. Bush’s election victory in 2000? Salt. The dodgy penalty decision in the Liverpool-Chelsea match last week? Salt. It’s incredible what you learn.
When I was about seven I stayed with my aunt and cousins in Norwich for a few weeks. One morning, before breakfast, my cousin Daniel thought it would be hilarious if he poured a load of salt into my orange squash. It tasted funny, and even though he confessed I still drank it all up, not knowing the consequences. Within ten minutes I was throwing up all over the breakfast table (and all over my cousin Debbie’s leather jacket), feeling rotten, and I learnt then and there that whatever else you may do with salt, you don’t put it in your morning drink. To be fair to my cousin, it probably was hilarious to watch. Well at least I have an interesting story about salt. Perhaps Kurlansky can put it in the second edition.
Originally posted at 20six.co.uk/petescully