Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky… a history of salt in 400+ pages? Seem a bit too much, but it’s not. Salt is fascinating, its history and there are a lot of recipes too. I have to confess I skipped the meat-based recipes as I’m not going to try any of these, as a vegetarian.

In this book, Mark Kurlansky presents how salt was made and used from Roman times. I was surprised to see that they would eat things we have as well, like sauerkraut, using recipes we can easily recognise today. He talks about the origins of ketchup and how it changed to become the well known tomato based sauce we eat today at one point and I found that fascinating.

Salt A World History by Mark Kurlansky

Besides the foods, he describes how salt was produced, both mined and from seawater. He also tells how important salt is for animals (including us) and that was not something I knew. Salt was so important that it acted as currency, there are even places named after it.

As you can imagine, salt was vital before refrigeration. It was how meat (including fish) was preserved and how butter and cheese were kept edible for a longer period of time. Pickles and olives were made using salt as well. He talks about the aftermath of digging for salt, like the sinking towns in Cheshire. He mentions the fun rides tourist would take in salt mines in the 17th century.

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

Details about the picture: I picked from my spice rack two types of salt: rock and sea salt. The first one is pink Himalayan salt and the second one is made in UK. (have a look at the link with the spice rack, there are 45 spices on display in my kitchen)
My rating: 5/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Walker & Company
Year it was published: 2002
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History
Pages: 484

About the author: Mark Kurlansky was born in Connecticut. He received a BA in Theatre from Butler University in 1970, and worked in New York as a playwright. He had a number of productions and was playwright-in-residence at Brooklyn College. He won the 1972 Earplay award for best radio play of the year.
Kurlansky had many other jobs, including commercial fisherman, a dock worker, a paralegal, a cook, and a pastry chef. In the mid 1970s he turned to journalism and from 1976 to 1991 he worked as a foreign correspondent for newspapers like The International Herald Tribune and The Chicago Tribune. He was based in Paris and then Mexico, he reported on Europe, West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean. His articles have appeared in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines and his books have been translated into twenty-five languages.
Books by Mark Kurlansky: Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, Salt: A World History, Paper: Paging Through History, Havana: A subtropical delirum, MILK!: A Ten Thousand Year Food Fracus, The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell
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1 thought on “Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky”

  • This book sounds very interesting and will have to go on my wish list. We have a pretty good variety of salts and salt blends on our shelf.

    Your spice rack is so neat and organized! I love cardamom, too, and add a good dash of it to the coconut/almond milk I cook our oatmeal in each morning.

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