Salt is one of the most important substances on earth. From ancient times to best-loved recipes, salt is known for more than simply something to set on the table to sprinkle on food. It is actually an essential element that makes all great cooking possible. Most BBQ seasonings require a delicate blend of salt and other spices in the right combinations to create the best tasting meats. These recipe combinations are highly sought after by every professional and backyard grill master. Interestingly, for something that seems so simple, salt has quite an interesting history.
Salt of the Earth
Salt is a naturally-occurring compound that exists everywhere on earth; it is found in the soil and oceans and is a vital element in the human body. In essence, salt is more than just a spice or seasoning; it is a primary substance that keeps all things alive. For this reason, salt has been treasured since the beginning of civilization, especially once man learned how to use salt to preserve the food that they grew and hunted, and to keep themselves alive.
Civilizations in central Asia found that salt was useful for many other things other than as a spice, including medicine and even more importantly, as an oxidizer for black powder or gunpowder. Salt could be used for so many things that people started mining it from underground deposits to sell. Salt became a form of currency in many places and as a result, people fought wars over it and the land from which it was mined.
The First Food Preservative
Around 5000 B.C., the Egyptians discovered that salt would preserve deceased bodies during the mummification process and was used that way for close to 2000 years. This led to the realization that salt could also be used to preserve meat and other foods for longer storage. This was a momentous point in history, as it was the beginning of the development of various methods that would completely change how food was stored and cooked, eventually to be used in a variety of barbeque seasonings among others.
Salt, Taxes and Revolutions
The Egyptians and Asians discovered the many benefits and uses of salt; however, it didn’t take the rest of the world long to learn as well. Salt was already being traded across lands, although it was difficult to contain and transport. Food that was preserved with salt soon became a regular trading commodity, as spoilage could then be delayed. As a result, salt became one of the most sought-after commodities, along with tea, opium, and gold.
Since salt was needed by everyone and was an integral part of life, the French government taxed it, forcing citizens to pay such a tax along with purchases. This taxation eventually led to a revolution, another example of when salt was the reason for bearing arms and fighting wars. Salt smuggling and stealing played an important part in our Revolutionary War and was even used to pay soldiers during the War of 1812.
Now that salt is plentiful, there is no reason to fight wars over it or any food that uses it. Once salt became widely available, many cooks discovered how to use it to make prepared dishes even more delicious. Salt is present in many foods and a main ingredient in various Barbecue seasonings and a common addition to all types of meats and vegetables. This simple ingredient has lived through countless civilizations, making every meal prepared today a little more special than most people realize!