A Sacred Valley of Salt
For thousands of years, the ancient art of salt making has been found in literally every region of the world. It has been used in trade as money and was once worth its weight in gold. Each crystalline structure, each nuance of flavor and crunch are all individual to the source and local methodologies of producing this prized commodity. Harvested from oceans and seas around the world and mined from deep within high mountain ranges, ancient sea-beds of the past, this world’s favorite seasoning is an adventure all its own.
Today this is a transcendent region, also known as the Urubamba or Sacred Valley, it is a quiet expanse of country that is steeped in Andean history and culture where the Salinas “salt pans”, originally constructed by the Incas, have been handed down through countless generations of Peruvians. These industrious people harvest the clay-lined salt ponds or flats, pounding out the evaporated salt under the hot sun, wearing wide-brimmed hats and traditional woven Andean dress. Visitors can trek down and around the flats where small vendor stands sell bags of this variously pink-hued, delicious salt.
The salt itself actually comes from brine waters of an ancient ocean that rests beneath the Andean mountains. It bubbles to the surface from a spring called Qoripujio and is channeled into the clay-lined plots throughout the valley where the sun and wind evaporate the water leaving behind this delicate, mineral-rich pink salt.
Each pond yields about 300 Peruvian Nuevo Sol’s-worth (approximately $115 USD) per month. A family often owns many pools and works diligently for six months out of the year when the sun is highest and hot enough to evaporate the water. An entire cooperative of families run the market selling salts and other hand-made items that line the path to the salt pans. They divide the proceeds from ticket sales to visit the mines (7 Sol per ticket, or approximately $3.00 USD). Salting can be good business! This beautiful salt, Sagrada RosaTM named for it delicate pink hue, can be enjoyed on a wide variety of foods such as fresh fish, vegetables, freshly baked breads and even sprinkled on chocolate ice cream!
NOTES ON GOOD HEALTH:
Natural, unrefined salts are paramount to good and healthy eating in today’s world of overly-refined, processed foods. A true gift from Mother Nature, these beautiful, natural salts from around the world deliver over 84 vital minerals to our bodies helping to keep our vital body pH in balance and ensuring proper cellular handling of fluids in our cells as well as many other important and vital bodily functions working as they were designed.
More on the Incas . . .
THE TERRACES OF MORAY
Often thought of as an Incan agricultural laboratory, the stair-stepped terraces of Moray, only a few miles from the Sacred Valley, do indeed offer a unique variety of micro-climates being warmest at the bottom in the center and coolest at the top. It is thought that the Incas used these terraces to test different crops where cross-bred varieties were created and new foreign crops tested. Another group of scientists and historians purport the theory that it was just an ingenious means of growing warmer climate maíz or corn in the local cold climate. Whoever is right, this archaeological site of concentric circles of terraced farms, forming craters in the landscape, are a fascinating sight to behold!