Thursday, April 22, 2010
I can't wait to visit a salt mine!
Title: Salt: A World History.
By: Mark Kurlansky
Thanks to Mark Kurlansky, who always makes history come alive - I learned that simple salt has not always been simple, in fact, man's need for salt and its manufacturing process helped shape civilization. He writes about how salt influenced trade routes, dynasties, and empires, from ancient Egypt, to China, to Portuguese explorers, and includes the Eastern Seaboard states and the whaling industry. He explores the important need for salt in our bodies and also in the bodies of domesticated animals (horses used in the military, for example) and the evolution of use of salt in our food. The illustrations are terrific; old mining cars and long wooden chutes that trucked workers down to underground lakes, where they made salt carvings below of entire connecting rooms, with furniture and even chandeliers! There are lots of opportunities to visit a salt mine or salt cave in America; links to the many websites which offer school trips to salt evaporation ponds and a host of science-related tours. But I especially enjoyed reading about my family's favorite hot sauce and its origin and manufacture in Avery Island, Louisiana. "Salt" goes well with Mr. Kurlansky's other fascinating book "Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World," also found here at the library.