Holly Morrow's Reviews > Salt: A World History

Salt by Mark Kurlansky
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's review
Sep 11, 2012

This is a good 230-page book. Unfortunately, its 449 pages. It tells the story of salt, a commodity so essential and precious (particularly before the days of refrigeration) that communities used to rise or fall based on their ability to produce or procure it. And it is interesting to see the way different places – completely isolated from one another – came around to the same two or three methods of making salt (basically – boiling off salt water, mining rock salt, or scraping it off natural saltwater formations). The highest labor-to-output ratio method described was submersing sticks in saltwater, pulling them out, waiting for the water to evaporate, and brushing off the salt crystals. The armies of Rome were not supplied with that method of salt production. But seriously, the exhaustive cataloguing of every society’s technique for making salt, along with half-page medieval recipes for salt ham and such, is a little excessive. It’s a bad sign when I find myself thinking “Am I STILL reading this damn book?”
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