Friday, August 2, 2013

Sodium Chloride and the Sea of Doom

One thing that I find especially disturbing is salt. It’s not the substance itself, it’s what people do with it. Go to any large sit down restaurant. Look around and it won’t be very long before you see someone dumping salt on their food. What alarms me is most of them will be salting their food before they taste it. Most restaurant food already has way too much salt in it before you get it–a common technique by chefs to make it taste better. So, the millions of people running around with blood pressure that’s already too high are dumping more sodium into their system so that BP will climb even higher.

I don’t own a salt shaker. I never add salt to food. There’s already plenty in it.

Back in the days of old salt was a big deal. There were times when the stuff was worth about as much as gold. The unwashed masses in many kingdoms couldn’t get the stuff. Of course, back then salt was primarily used to cure meats. And it worked very well in pre-refrigeration society. Your meat, if properly salted, can keep quite some time. Most smoking techniques require salt.

Even as recently as Ghandi’s time, salt was fairly expensive. That wasn’t due to scarcity, but rather the British Colonial Government licensing certain companies to have the exclusive rights to make and sell salt. The thing was, countries like India, with large coastal areas, could not control salt. As people became more defiant of their colonial masters, they started making salt themselves. Controlling salt mines was not that tough, but hundreds of miles of coastline was another matter. A few gallons of seawater and a nice sunny day and you’ve got salt.

It’s actually sort of fun. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, seawater wasn’t that hard to get. Once, I went down to the bay and got a few buckets. I followed the instructions in a book the library had and made salt. It was a little more course than your basic Morton variety, but it tasted like salt. I used it on various items. I remember my mother refused to try it–not even once (and she loved salt on everything). I can’t remember if my dad or my brother used any of it or not. I never made any more. The stuff was so darn cheap it just wasn’t worth the trouble. [Leslie Salt had a huge operation just a few miles away]. I don’t know why teachers didn’t try making salt with their science curriculum. Don’t recall ever making it at any grade level.

But, as I moved inland and I became more aware of the link between blood pressure and sodium, I stopped using it at all. I just wish people would at least hold back on it until they’ve tasted the food. But, if you live near the coast, it’s kind of fun to make some–at least just once.

No comments:

Post a Comment