Friday, July 10, 2009

Salt - A World History

By Mark Kurlansky

Salt – A World History traces the production of salt through history, from the first recorded salt production in China in 800 B.C. to 1997, when Morton Salt officially becomes the largest salt company in the world. Kurlansky addresses salt production on all continents (except Antarctica) paying particular attention to the ways salt is mined, evaporated, transported, taxed and used both in cooking, medicine and chemical production. But, the best parts of the book deal with how history has been shaped by salt. For example, when the Greeks and Romans conquered a territory the first thing they did was either take over or build a saltworks. The medieval trading superpower, Venice was built first on the trade of salt, then on other spices, fabrics and exotic goods. The first revolts of the French Revolution were over the taxation of salt. Gandhi started his campaign against the British rule of India by purposefully breaking the British salt laws. These are just some of the interesting historical facts the are based in the trade and production of salt.

This is the second book of this type I have read. The first was And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails by Wayne Curtis. It is one of my favorite books of all time. The author is in fact one of my Facebook friends. I enjoyed this one almost as much. It is interspersed with OLD recipes using salt, such as how to make salt cod and herring, proscuitto de Parmi, parmesano reggiano and even soy sauce. In a sea of boring world history books, this one is unique, offering a very interesting perspective on what might have caused history to take some of the turns it has.

This is the third book I have finished for My Cozy Book Nook's Summer Vacation Challenge. Read my list of books and other reviews here.

Rating - B+

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