Be a pinch of salt to pep up life

Today, you’ll probably get your salary, literally meaning ‘salt-money’. Two millennia ago, soldiers of the Roman Empire were paid a monthly salarium—from the Latin root sal, meaning ‘salt’—a fixed amount of salt for: (a) services rendered, and, (b) staying healthy. Interestingly, the English word ‘soldier’ derives from the Latin saldare, literally meaning ‘to give salt’. Salt seems too trifle a thing to spend time thinking and talking about. But, have you realised how indispensable salt is; and how happy life would be if you felt you were as dear as salt?

‘As dear as salt’ is the title of an unforgettable story in our English primer at school. It told of a king who was furious when his youngest son said, “You are as dear as salt!” The young prince was banished from the kingdom. However, fortune smiled on him and he became king in another faraway land. Decades later, he invited his aged father for a banquet and ordered that many sumptuous dishes be prepared without salt. The aged king felt insulted to be served saltless, tasteless food. He then realized the wisdom of his youngest son and appointed him his successor.

I love salt. It was so dear to me that, during childhood, I’d often get pinched by mom for adding extra pinches of salt into anything and everything I ate. “Careful about salt!” she would say. I now am. But, medicos swear that salt is good for water retention and muscle contraction, and contains nutrients vital to our bodies. Commonsense suggests that one be moderate with salt intake.

Salt has many properties and reconciles many polarities. Salt is cheap, yet indispensable. It is unseen in food, yet noticed only when there is either too much or too little of it. Salt is solid, yet dissolves. It is small, yet makes a world of difference when present. Amidst that aromatic array of exotic deshi spices from Kashmiri chillies to Keralite cardamom, salt seems so insignificant. But, it is of utmost importance to teach valuable lessons in the world’s great religions.

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