Salt and salary

During the recent world economic crisis we were facing also an increase in prices of basic necessities, especially rice, wheat and oil. For some reason prices of salt were not mentioned. A young friend of mine, Sa’ar, gave me a copy of the Israeli monthly magazine ‘The Nature of Things’ for which he works. I read through it and came across an interesting article which highlights the significance of salt, this elementary spice that we take for granted as something very basic.

The article opens with a tale:

 Once upon a time there were two princesses – an elder, and a younger who was good, bright and beloved. The king wanted to spoil his beloved daughter, and therefore asked each of the princesses: “How much do you love me?”

The first answered: “More than silver, gold and diamonds.” The second answered: “Daddy, I love you more than salt.”

This wasn’t the answer the father anticipated. The king was angry and ordered to expel his daughter from the palace. All the servants were saddened and especially the cook, who decided to take initiative and to start cooking without any salt. Only after three days of hunger and a minute before the king ordered to cut the cook’s head off, he realised that he had made a mistake and returned his beloved daughter to the palace and with her came back the taste to his life and to the cook’s dishes.

 And here are two interesting facts from the article about salt:

 * Is there a connection between salt and salary? Well, there is.
In the old days, salt was considered an expensive commodity. The word ‘salary’ originates from the Latin word ‘Salarium’ which means ‘salt allowance.’ In the old Roman times, soldiers received part of their salary in salt. With time, the word became associated with any kind of payment for work.

 * The expression that we often use – “salt of the earth” - was firstly given to Jesus’ disciples, who were the best and most worthy pupils. Today it still tends to describe people who are considered to represent the top of society.

 (From an article written by Dr. Zehavi and Dr. Einav, February 2007).

In many European cultures one welcomes a guest with the offering of “bread and salt.” This symbolizes a warm hospitality gesture and in some cultures a long-lasting friendship.

Fireworks (23)
Shuka, Thursday, February 12, 2009

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