General knowledge

When men started their journey on Earth, salt was not an issue as the daily intake of sodium chloride was afforded by eating raw meat. But when they started cooking with fire, things began to change. With cooking most of food natural salts and flavor is lost. There had to be a way to preserve that – and salt was the answer.

When the first mines were found, salt was extracted from open sky mines. Many ancient peoples grew wealthy trading salt. Salt became a valued commodity and its price rivaled the price of gold – a gram of the white powder was traded for a gram of the golden powder. Which made Roman Senator Cassiodorus muse: “one can live without gold, but can one live without salt?”.

In ancient Rome, the main road used by soldiers to carry the precious crystals into town was called “Via Salaria” (Salt Route). They were compensated with a “salarium”, which meant the necessary pay to buy salt . The word ran through our language to this day, although most people are unaware of the origin of the word “salary”.

In his books, world traveler Polo tells about his journeys to China and describes salt coins bearing Genghis Khan seal. Up to the beginning of the 20th century salt discs were used as coins in Ethiopia. And in some regions of Central Africa you could buy a good bride with a chariot full of salt!

Salt has played a strategic role throughout history. Kings and heads of state controlled salt trade with an iron hand. In France, people had to buy their salt directly from the King´s warehouses. The salt tax, set by the King, was known as “gabelle” but nobility and the clergy were exempt. Like many other privileges of the time, the tax was extinguished after the French Revolution

Salt was highly valued in the past. To the point that the word became synonymous to grace, spirit, wisdom, hospitality, purity. Greek poet Homer called it “divine”. Philosopher Plato defined it as “the substance dear to the gods”.

“You are the salt of the Earth”, said Jesus addressing his followers, as quoted in the Bible (Matthew 5:13). Hebrews closed deals exchanging salt between them. Bedouins in South Arabia would never attack anyone with whom they had once shared their salt.

Hebrews, Greeks and Romans alike used salt in ritual offerings and ceremonies. This may be the origin of a widespread superstition that has carried to our days: spilling salt [during a ceremony] means bad luck.

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