It’s a salty world. The oceans are salty. Salt is mined, dried from salty earth, created from brine that is dried. It is white and sometimes pink. It is iodized and sometimes not. We use salt to melt ice and snow on the roads in the winter when the snow comes. We slip and slide down those roads to go the market to get stuff for dinner that will be made with love and put on the table to be eaten and enjoyed by our families—but only after they sprinkle everything with salt. In riding that merry-go-round you could just tell your family to go out and lick the road to get their salt fix. I wouldn’t try that if I were you!
How many times do you put dinner on the table, seeing plates filled with carrots and potatoes and pot roast from grandma’s recipe? A very homey scene. Then just at the last second, before taking that first bite to see just how yummy the food is, the salt shaker is shook all over the plate? Or putting salt the popcorn you just made and perfectly seasoned? Boy, talk about rubbing salt in the wound!
I first took note of this dilemma some time ago when we bought a cute set of salt and pepper shakers at an antique store in Twin Falls, Idaho. I would not have bought the set except for the story they had to tell. I have no idea who owned them before they came to live with me, but I know the husband and wife as if they were my husband’s grandparents.
This set is from the 30’s, white milk glass with tin screw on tops. About four inches high and five inches in diameter. On the front in deep red paint one reads salt and one reads pepper and each have three red lines painted along the front edges as decorations. Think half a softball with the flat side having the writing on it. That is what they look like. But the most interesting thing that caught my eye? The pepper shaker looks like brand new. No marks, no wear. The salt however? I can tell that every time dinner was put on the table, someone, I assume the man of the house, picked up that salt shaker and shook it. Each time with the same hand. Each time with his thumb over the “alt” on the salt word scuffing the paint. It’s like I can see his thumb print etched in the glass.
He would sit at the table and before he ever took a bite of the meal he picked up that salt shaker and soosh, soosh he shook that crystalized seasoning on whatever was served. I like to think she never took it as a cut to her ability to cook. As I also like to think he did it without saying a word. They did this salt dance at each meal. I hope they were married fifty years or more. I hope they used up the paint on two or three sets of shakers. I hope at some point in their lives together she quit salting food as she cooked just so she could reconcile him adding salt to everything she put in front of him.
They are my hero couple. I can see them as old folks, heavy set in old clothes. His overalls torn at the knees but repaired by hand sewing with love from her. She is wearing a grandma type dress, light weight and worn thin by time. Set in waist with little round pearly buttons sewn in a line on top for decoration. She is wearing an apron she made, with big pockets holding tissues or maybe those little white handkerchiefs, she has used over and over again. They sit every meal together and she smiles as he reaches for that salt shaker taking just the tiniest bit of red paint off each time he sooshes the salt out.
Oh there are those today who say that salt is not good for you. But in the next week you hear someone else tout that salt is good for you and you need so many mg-s of the seasoning every day to keep your body on an even keel. I say everything in moderation is a good bench mark to go by.
I mean you wouldn’t eat an entire chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and topped with cherries, all in one seating, would you? Of course not. Not only would your thighs never be the same, but that much chocolate would give you a headache that could incapacitate you for days! For other medical reasons you don’t encase your food in this white “fix all” seasoning. Again, everything in moderation-a shake, shake here and a shake, shake there. But try not to do that extra shake we all seem to do just for good measure. Save some paint for the next owners of your salt shaker! Soosh, soosh.
Trina lives in Eureka. Her book ITY BITS is on Kindle. Share with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.