Monday, July 26, 2010

The glories of salt

When I was in Slovakia this past winter I became fascinated by food preserved with salt: a plethora of sausage (klobasa), fish (rybi), kapušta (cabbage), beets (repa), cheese (syr), and I'm sure other things. I ate them all the time, despite the risks to my blood pressure. What's prescription medicine for but making it possible to fully live? The use of salt is the historical residue of a pre-refrigeration culture. And of course, salt makes everything taste better. Bread (also salted) is baked every day, vegetables and meat and fish are preserved for winter and for summer too. Another preservative is alcohol: grain is made into beer, fruits is make into liquor. In the spring, everyone has a garden, many of which are quite large: it is a nation of domestic horticulturists, brewers and distillers. In times past, when this was an "occupied" part of Hungary, salt came down from Poland, or what is now eastern Slovakia. In exchange, goods that came up the Danube and from Venice, were transported further inland.

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