The Hard Sell on Salt

Salt ponds in SF by Jim WilsonOnce upon a time back in China, a 饭桶 (rice bucket; big eater; fathead; good-for-nothing ..) Emperor asked his chef what did he consider the most delicious thing in the world.
“Salt.” the chef replied without blinking.
The Emperor had 3,000 pretty women in his backyard and 3,000 scrumptious dishes on his table, he couldn’t believe his chef would pick salt.
“Sha!” The Emperor felt insulated.
The poor soul was dragged out and stoned to death instantly.

Salt enjoys an insatiable demand for perhaps as long as it was being discovered.
Morton Salt Girl

The salt merchants of Yangzhou were particularly noted for their great wealth and luxurious living; their estimated aggregate profit in the second half of the eighteenth century was something like 250 million taels.1

.. while the entire Central government’s expenditures in 1765 was only 9.5 million taels.2

Few years ago when I was deep in my research on the Zhous, remembered thinking, how could that be? A pound of salt cost nearly to nothing and it would last forever in my kitchen. Really, how often do you buy salt?

Guess this was the typical housewife’s reaction -:), knew nothing beyond the wall of kitchen.

This Morton girl is just as famous as the Morton steaks. And the Chicago girl came before the steaks.

salt2I take salt over sugar any given moment because it just tastes better. Not sure if there is a study that proves salt causes high blood pressure. Maybe the Americans need to eat healthier food over all? Is this the same kind of mentality that lawyers would have lawyers and consultants have consultants, shrinks have shrinks .. so no one takes responsibility? Let’s blame the salt! How smart.

There are gourmet salts, premium salts, sea salts, Yancheng 盐城市 Yancheng Shì, Salt City in northeastern Jiangsu province. There’s a new movie Salt coming this July staring Angelina Jolie.


1 The Rise of Modern China, Immanuel C.Y. Hsü, 6th Edition, page 71
2 Ibid, page 63

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