Wednesday, June 15, 2011

It's Spill the Salt Day

Salt is such a common commodity that one does not usually give much thought to it or realize its importance. "Please pass the salt"--just a reach and there it is... Salt has figured in the religious rituals of many nations. An allowance for salt was paid the Roman Soldiers. This was known as a "salarium" and from this term was derived the modern word "salary." The ancients held the modern Asian idea of salt as a tie of comradeship between those who have shared it over a common table. In many lands it has frequently been used for money...Salt has served as an incentive in peaceful pursuits. One of the finest Roman roads, the Via Saleria, was built at an early date in Italy to open the way from the salt deposits at Osita to the Sabine Country. Throughout history there are many instances where nations on the sea-board engaged in the salt trade. (The Magic of Salt; undated)
From the acutely evil (the spilt salt superstition) to the heavenly good, (salt of the earth) salt myths still exist today. Let's take these with a pinch together:)
  • Salt is never borrowed; to accept salt is to accept evil
  • Salt thrown on the front steps the first Friday of each month brings good luck to the household.
  • It is bad luck to run out of salt
  • It is unlucky to pass salt across the table
  • Give a baby, when it first goes out of the house, an egg, some salt, a little bread and a small piece of money, and he will never want the necessities of life
  • The over turning of a salt-cellar signifies the breaking of a friendship, except when it happens in the house of a fishing village, there it signifies the sinking of a ship.
According to the Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained, "at one time salt was regarded as being almost as valuable as gold." Take a pinch of salt with me was a popular way of inviting a friend to enjoy one's hospitality. But perhaps the most relative tradition, which some of us may have experienced, is that of the broom and salt housewarming tradition:
Broom & Salt Housewarming Traditions ~Bread – That this house may never know hunger. ~Salt – That life may always have flavor. ~Broom – To sweep away troubles.
"The phrase “flying off the handle” comes from broom lore. When a woman would get frustrated trying to chase her children out of the kitchen so she could finish with the cooking, a swat from the broom was a last resort, sending the straw flying off the handle and across the room." (Broom Folklore)
Do people even have house warming parties anymore? I've attended a few mortgage burning rituals but I haven't been to a house warming party in years. When I bought my first house many moons ago, I was gifted the above three plus one more; a bottle of Chianti! (which also happens to be one of my favorite wines for soaking peaches:)
Speaking of wine, I suppose I'd be remiss if I didn't mention a few of the household uses for salt; besides flavoring and brining of course:) Here's one from 365 Quick Tips from the folks at Cook's Illustrated Magazine.
To help remove beet stains from cutting boards and hands, sprinkle the stained area with salt, rinse, and then scrub with soap. The salt crystals help lift the beet juices away.
Have you heard the story about beet juice and salt for treating icy roads? I found it in USA Today.
A concoction of beet juice and salt that is kinder to concrete and metal is getting mostly favorable reviews from a growing number of states and cities looking for more effective ways to treat ice- and snow-covered roads. The beet juice lowers the brine's freezing point so it works at temperatures where regular saltwater wouldn't be effective.
Another stain removing tip is to pour salt and warm water onto a wine spill. The salt will soak up the spill. I've never tried it so let me know if it works!
Will salt kill fleas? According to this article, it may help.
And another suggestion from Uncommon Cures for Everyday Ailments.
There is nothing more distracting than a toothache. To nip one in the bud, at the first sign of pain, apply a pinch of salt to the affected area. It helps soothe your ache and calm down a sensitivity.
You can keep salting to relieve the pain, but remember that continuous discomfort is most likely an indication of an infection that needs attention from your dentist.
Here are a few more "suggestions" scanned from The Magic of Salt, published by the makers of Worcester Salt. (I'm guessing this book is probably from the early 1930s:)
I found this recipe for home made glitter somewhere online, but for the life of me, I can't remember where. If it is your recipe, just let me know and proper credit will be given. (image courtesy of wiki)
Homemade Glitter or Colored Salt 3 tablespoons salt (Coarse salt or rock salt would look better.)
 About 2 drops of food coloring Place the salt in a sealable bag.  Add food coloring to make various colors.  Seal the bag.  Move the salt around using your fingers.  Keep the bag open.  Let dry.  (It usually takes a half a day or less.)  If using table salt, place in salt shakers by cutting a hole in the bottom side of a sealable bag. Place it in the salt shaker. If you use coarse salt, have the child spoon it onto the glue. Suggested Uses:
Place glue on paper, sand paper, etc.  Sprinkle the salt onto the glue. Shake off the excess salt. Let dry.

Nibbling @ the Days

Born today, in 1861, famous opera singer Ernestine Schumann-Heink. She also happens to be a Jell-O fan. Follow her link for a previous post and recipes.
What is Home? A roof to keep out the rain. Four walls to keep out the wind. Floors to keep out the cold. Yes, but home is more than that. It is the laugh of a baby, the song of a mother, the strength of a father. Warmth of loving hearts, light from happy eyes, kindess, loyalty, comradeship. Home is the first school and first church for young ones, where they learn what is right, what is good, and what is kind. Where they go for comfort when they are hurt or sick. Where joy is shared and sorrow eased. Where fathers and mothers are respected and loved. Where children are wanted. Where the simplest food is good enough for kings because it is earned. Where money is not so important as loving-kindness. Where even the teakettle sings from happiness. That is home. God bless it. Ernestine Schumann-Heink

June 16th

On June 16, 1893 a new treat was offered at the Chicago World's Fair by brothers Fred and Louis Rueckheim; Cracker Jack! I don't know about you, but I call that delicious mixture of popcorn, molasses and peanuts, Cracker Jacks, with an ess:) One legend notes the name "Cracker Jack" came into use when a customer who tried the product exclaimed, That's really a cracker-jack!"
-June 16th is National Fudge Day!(thanks Janet:)

June 17th

Eat All Your Veggies Day!
National Apple Strudel Day! Boy, I sure could use one of those datebooks on my blog, how cool:)
Ruth Graves Wakefield the inventor of the Toll House Cookie, the first chocolate chip cookie, was born on June 17, 1903. Remember this?
On June 17, 1957 the first of Sambo's nationwide chain of family restaurants was opened. (more info)

June 18th

With the exception of one suggestion, there aren't any changes to the Picnic Game rules this year. Last year, a reader inquired about hosting a Picnic Game on their blog at the same time as when we play the Picnic Game here. As always, I am open to suggestions and if you would like to host your very own Picnic Game that is just fine with me. Just let me know. More about the picnic on Saturday; International Picnic Day!!!
I've been a bit behind on my visiting, not to worry, I'll be catching up on all your goodies the next couple of days!!!

So which one are you, salt or the pepper?

I just remembered, Barbara over @ Moveable Feasts has a GREAT recipe posted for Salt & Vinegar Potatoes which sounds mighty tempting...!
1. About salt (@ the salt institute)
2. Gale Encyclopedia of the Unusual and Unexplained
3. Sodium Is Good For You!
4. Timeless Myths
5. Spice Up Your Dishes with Flavored Salts


  1. The close up photo of the salt crystals is just amazing. Love all the factoids in your post!

  2. What another great post full of interesting tidbits! You really got my soul when I read "What is Home?" Thank you for you kind words and your visit.

  3. This reminded me of an old (circa 1972) album by British folk/rock group Steeleye Span entitled "Below the Salt." The liner notes were as follows: "Below the salt - this, as its most vivid, can be found in the use of salt at the medieval food table. Here salt (an expensive and rare commodity of the time) was placed at the centre of the table. Above the salt sat the family and intimates of the household, below the salt sat the servants and dependants. Usually this." The cover design matched these words perfectly if you are inclined to do a google search.

  4. Found a good link for my previous comment (re: album "Below the Salt")--see: http://www.informatik.uni-hamburg.de/~zierke/steeleye.span/images/largerec/belowthesalt_2.jpg

  5. Fudge day today?! I need to text the Knight... and his assistant. Just in case. Hem.

  6. Louise, what nice and amazing post, love the pictures too! send you huggs, gloria

  7. I knew some of that about salt, but not nearly all. Fascinating.
    Love your salt and pepper shakers! So many people collect them and they are such fun to look at. I only have one pair of really old ones...they are Santas and I love them.

  8. louise, I've yet tried the rock salt and it's hard to get them here too. Thanks for sharing the info. Enjoy your day, dear.
    Blessings, Kristy

  9. what wonderful tidbits about salt! I'll make sure I'll never run out of salt. thomas keller always said the first thing a cook should learn is how to salt properly.

  10. Ever since my dearly beloved was diagnosed with high blood pressure I've cut the use of salt in the house - not that I ever used much. But I do love the salt stories (and all of my kids know that salt is the basis for the word salary).

  11. Love this post about salt. I've used salt for red wine stains many times, and it does work. Of course, it depends on the fabric, but it works on carpet..I've never used water with it, though.

  12. More about salt -- especially all those fancy salts that cost $$$$ -- from Harold McGee:

  13. I love all your interesting tidbits about salt! And the what is a home is very sweet. Yay! I love the picnic game.

  14. OMG! I LOVE that set of salt and pepper shakers! You have the coolest stuff (and more information in your head that Wikipedia, it would seem)!

  15. I am a big fan of salt (sea salt & Himalaya salt)! I cannot live without it.



  16. while i appreciate pepper, pretty much nothing i eat is complete without some salt. i daresay it's the one ingredient i couldn't live without!

  17. Thanks Yummy, I wish I could take credit for it but it was harvested from wiki.

    Delighted you enjoyed this post, Rita. It was fun digging up crystals to share. Thanks for mentioning the Picnic Game. The picnic is just around the corner!!!

    Thanks for that info, Inger and that image!

    Hem, did you get him in time Chan?

    Glad you like it Gloria.

    The Santa shakers sound cute Barbara. I don't collect Salt and Pepper shakers but I do have a few favorites. I actually don't care for this pair much:)

    Thanks Kristy. Your picnic dish looks heavenly!!!

    I agree, Veron. Now only if I could learn how:)

    Marion is always watching her salt, Marjie and she's found salt in the most unusual list of ingredients. Mind you, she doesn't have high blood pressure bless her 91 year old heart:)

    Salt and Vingear Janet. GREAT tools in the kitchen!!!

    Thanks, Mae I'll have to check that out. And Mae, your dish for the picnic is just fabulous!!! Thank YOU!!!

  18. I LOVE the Picnic Game too Reeni. We have a few surprises this year. Just wait and see...

    I thought about you when I posted these Pattie. I had a feeling you might like them:)

    Himalayan salt? Interesting, Rosa. I'll have to look into it...

    I don't think any of us can live without salt, Grace. Seriously, what would a french fry be without salt!!!

  19. In our culture, we also believe that salt is necessary to dispel evil. Salt is a must to have around in your house.
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  20. Hi Steph and welcome! I do believe we take the importance of salt for granted. Its history is simply fascinating! Thank you so much for visiting...

  21. Salt is such a common commodity that one does not usually give much thought to it or realize ... hsaltlamp.blogspot.com


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise