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Blog 89 - Salt

You may probably wonder what possible connection can today’s scarf have with salt. Hop on my magic carpet and find out on our mystery journey.

Let me describe my scarf. It is finest silk chiffon by LEHNER of Switzerland, so let’s make that our first destination. The Alps provide enough salt to keep Swiss pavements and roads de-iced in winter, forever and forever. Their Swiss Saltworks goes back 450 years and the country is self sufficient in its supply. Today it is an inexpensive commodity but in bygone years it was extremely valuable in the preservation of food….in fact so precious it was used as a part of the rations to the Roman legionnaires known as their ‘salarium’…..and so we have today’s word salary. Can’t imagine my grandchildren would want to be paid in big cones of salt. Yes, from my carpet I can see the pavements and roads are efficiently salted and the skiers have abandoned their Covid masks except in the enclosed lifts.

I tighten my flimsy scarf around my head. Its colours give a clue where my LEHNER silkiness will take me next. If we delve into this old Swiss company’s history, we will find it started its business, not in silk, but cashmere shawls in Paisley designs. The cashmere came from the Himalayas, so let’s leave the Alps and go further east to even higher mountains. The next photo shows a lump of Himalayan pink salt which is exactly the shade of my scarf. There is a slightly snob appeal today about using this salt on our dinner tables. It does have a slightly lower sodium level and the pretty colour results from iron rust. I was given my lump as a Christmas present and it makes an attractive lantern with a small candle inside. Yes, I have the pink salt for my dinner table too!

Well, we have hovered above the Himalayan salt mines and I decide to turn north west and head for Poland. Yes, I have visited Switzerland and when in Northern Pakistan was close to K2, the second highest Himalayan peak, but I have never been down a salt mine in either region. One of my daughters treated me to an 85th birthday experience…..a visit to the Wieliczka Salt mines outside Krakow in Poland. It was a remarkable trip and had I known in advance what was entailed, I would have stayed behind! I believe we had something like 320 wooden stairs to climb down, calves aching, heart pounding, not knowing what lay ahead. Narrow tunnels, a wondrous lake, carvings of salt such as one cannot imagine and St.Kinga’s Chapel, a high vaulted cathedral of salt with a tiled salt floor, all created centuries back by imaginative miners. I am naturally claustrophobic and felt very uncomfortable…..let me see the sky…..we were promised a mechanical lift to the surface….please don’t let that break down! Of course, it did not, but events in Mariupol have brought back these underground memories as one sees tv images of people living underground, wondering if they will ever see a free sky again. Better not let salty tears stain my delicate scarf.

Home, trusty carpet, home!

Below me, I see the familiar sight of the Twickenham Rugby Stadium. I remember it is Wednesday 16th March and I have a date at the Exchange just along from the stadium to listen to a lecture on Salt Sensitivity by Dr. Leta Pilic, Senior Lecturer in Nutrition at St.Mary’s University. Having a history of a TIA and dodgy high blood pressure recently, I need to be well informed. I will descend onto the roof, park the carpet and find my seat. All interesting stuff about how much salt we need, the little control we have over the food industry, the hidden salt in all our staples like bread, cereals, etc., and the possible DNA influence on our sensitivity. I now know we should not have any more than 6 grams per day….that’s a small teaspoon. We’ve had Burns Night, Valentines Day, Pancake Day, Woman’s Day, St.Patrick’s Day and Mother’s Day is fast approaching. Bet you didn’t know this is Salt Awareness Week!

After I have written this, I will do a grocery shop, and for the first time in my life, look at the information on cans, packets, etc and see if I can make sense of traffic light labelling, salt levels, etc……that is if I remember to take my reading glasses and have the mathematical ability to work out the numbers. Thinking back to the salarium of these Roman legionaries, I may not be ‘worth my salt’!

Happy Salt Awareness Week!

Busy Bee, Scarf Face!

Series 2, Blog. 89.

Ps. Have just realised looking at my photos, I should have flown back with a detour over the Sahara Desert. The rose red sand might not have followed me in a freak storm after the salt lecture leaving a rusty coloured deposit all over my garden furniture!

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1 Comment

Mar 20, 2022

This is utterly engaging. Thank you.

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