“Salt” by Mark Kurlansky: The History of the World as Told by a Condiment

  1. Who: The main character is salt, minor characters include humanity and various forms of marine life.
  2. What: The book is essentially an homage to salt and its hand in the creation of the current geopolitical climate. Salt has shaped economies, cuisines, uprisings, and religions— not bad for a dead rock. Protip: this book also contains great recipes for cured ham and salted cheese.
  3. When: China circa 6000 B.C. to your dining room table today. Salt became necessary when humans starting breeding livestock and growing crops.
  4. Where: Everywhere. Salt has become ubiquitous, albeit heavily devalued as a currency due to the magic of mass manufacturing.
  5. Why: Salt became necessary for humans as we settled down in one place and decided that we needed preservatives for our surplus food. It really just spiraled out of control from there. In terms of why Mark Kurlansky wrote the salt bible, I would venture to say that Mark is the type of person that enjoys citing his primary sources.
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