sal, salt. The necessity of salt has produced its incorporation into symbolism and rituals. Salt is the most essential ingredient in food preservation; even Egyptian mummies were preserved in salt.
|Salt Beds to Preserve Food Items|
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Societies living on grain diets, as opposed to dairy products, need extra salt. Salarium argentum, special salt rations that were given to Roman soldiers were the forerunner of “sal-ary” or “salt-money” that Eton College boys annually begged for it to help pay their expenses. After gold, it was most appraised. Arabs thought salt was ‘as necessary in food as grammar in lecture.’ Salt was a sign of hospitality. With bread it was offered to guests, see salero. Contrary to popular belief it not was used more than sugar in the Middle Ages. Salt, however, did cause the success and the downfall of empires. Control of salt mines made or broke dynasties. Salt’s role in universal history cannot be taken with a grain of salt. Governmental decrees and salt taxes and other salty factors shaped history. Salt continued to be expensive until the 16th C. when Europeans reverted to the ancient Chinese method of drilling for it. It was not only the quest for spice but also salt that incited the Spanish government to finance Columbus’ search for new trade routes, explorations in South America and the expansion of territories in what now is the United States.
During the reign of Philip II of Spain and Flanders (including of the Netherlands), the Dutch blockade against the importation of Spanish salt was a major contributing factor to Spain’s bankruptcy. Salt was a major cause of Spain’s disappearance as an empire. For overspending in the American Revolution, the French gabelle (salt tax) increased from 14 to 140 times the cost of production, from 1630 to 1710 thus becoming a major grievance leading to the French Revolution. During the French retreat from Moscow, most of Napoleons’ troops died due to of lack of salt their wounds did not heal. Salt helps digestion through saliva, reinforces the stomach and promotes beauty. It eases molar pain, bruises and stops bleeding. For food preservation also see adobo, geletina and aguasal.
[ES: Figueroa. “Sal.” Jan 29, 03; ES “Gastronomia.” May 2, 03. ES: “Hïstory of Tuzla.” Mar 14, 02; ES: MRBLOCH. Mar 27, 02; ES: Salt. May 28, 2002; Martínez Llopis. “Prólogo” 1982:34; Sánchez-Albornoz. 2000:43-44; and Villena/Calero. 2002:115]