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1 Home & Garden Cooking and Food- Gastronomic Literature

Salt: A World History

by

Salt: A World History Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. Today we take salt for granted, a common, inexpensive substance that seasons food or clears ice from roads, a word used casually in expressions ("salt of the earth," "take it with a grain of salt") without appreciating their deeper meaning. However, as Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates in his world-encompassing new book, salt — the only rock we eat — has shaped civilization from the very beginning. Its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind.

Until about 100 years ago, when modern chemistry and geology revealed how prevalent it is, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities, and no wonder, for without it humans and animals could not live. Salt has often been considered so valuable that it served as currency, and it is still exchanged as such in places today. Demand for salt established the earliest trade routes, across unknown oceans and the remotest of deserts: the city of Jericho was founded almost 10,000 years ago as a salt trading center. Because of its worth, salt has provoked and financed some wars, and been a strategic element in others, such as the American Revolution and the Civil War. Salt taxes secured empires across Europe and Asia and have also inspired revolution (Gandhi's salt march in 1930 began the overthrow of British rule in India); indeed, salt has been central to the age-old debate about the rights of government to tax and control economies.

The story of salt encompasses fields as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly explores. Few endeavors have inspired more ingenuity than salt making, from the natural gas furnaces of ancient China to the drilling techniques that led to the age of petroleum, and salt revenues have funded some of the greatest public works in history, including the Erie Canal, and even cities (Syracuse, New York). Salt's ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. Just as significantly, salt has shaped the history of foods like cheese, sauerkraut, olives, and more, and Kurlansky, an award-winning food writer, conveys how they have in turn molded civilization and eating habits the world over.

Salt is veined with colorful characters, from Li Bing, the Chinese bureaucrat who built the world's first dam in 250 BC, to Pattillo Higgins and Anthony Lucas who, ignoring the advice of geologists, drilled an east Texas salt dome in 1901 and discovered an oil reserve so large it gave birth to the age of petroleum. From the sinking salt towns of Cheshire in England to the celebrated salt mine on Avery Island in Louisiana; from the remotest islands in the Caribbean where roads are made of salt to rural Sichaun province, where the last home-made soya sauce is made, Mark Kurlansky has produced a kaleidoscope of history, a multi-layered masterpiece that blends economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records into a rich and memorable tale.

Review:

"Salt is the fascinating, indispensable history of an indispensable ingredient. Like Kurlansky's earlier work, Cod, it's a must-have book for any serious cook or foodie." Anthony Bourdain author of the best-selling Kitchen Confidential

Review:

"A lively social history that does for salt what Kurlansky previously did for cod....Enlightening and delighting as he goes, Kurlansky is, as Jane Grigson before him, a peerless food historian." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"Only Mark Kurlansky, winner of the James Beard Award for Excellence in Food Writing for Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, could woo readers toward such an off-beat topic of Salt: A World History....Throughout his engaging, well-researched history, Kurlansky sprinkles witty asides and amusing anecdotes. A piquant blend of the historic, political, commercial, scientific and culinary, the book is sure to entertain as well as educate." Publishers Weekly, starred review

Review:

"Kurlansky is in command of every facet of this topic, and he conveys his knowledge in a readable, easy style....An entertaining, informative read, this is highly recommended..." Library Journal (Starred Review)

Synopsis:

Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. Today we take salt for granted, a common, inexpensive substance that seasons food or clears ice from roads, a word used casually in expressions ("salt of the earth," take it with a grain of salt") without appreciating their deeper meaning. However, as Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates in his world- encompassing new book, salt—the only rock we eat—has shaped civilization from the very beginning. Its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind.

Until about 100 years ago, when modern chemistry and geology revealed how prevalent it is, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities, and no wonder, for without it humans and animals could not live. Salt has often been considered so valuable that it served as currency, and it is still exchanged as such in places today. Demand for salt established the earliest trade routes, across unknown oceans and the remotest of deserts: the city of Jericho was founded almost 10,000 years ago as a salt trading center. Because of its worth, salt has provoked and financed some wars, and been a strategic element in others, such as the American Revolution and the Civil War. Salt taxes secured empires across Europe and Asia and have also inspired revolution (Gandhi's salt march in 1930 began the overthrow of British rule in India); indeed, salt has been central to the age-old debate about the rights of government to tax and control economies.

The story of salt encompasses fields as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly explores. Few endeavors have inspired more ingenuity than salt making, from the natural gas furnaces of ancient China to the drilling techniques that led to the age of petroleum, and salt revenues have funded some of the greatest public works in history, including the Erie Canal, and even cities (Syracuse, New York). Salt's ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. Just as significantly, salt has shaped the history of foods like cheese, sauerkraut, olives, and more, and Kurlansky, an award-winning food writer, conveys how they have in turn molded civilization and eating habits the world over.

Salt is veined with colorful characters, from Li Bing, the Chinese bureaucrat who built the world's first dam in 250 BC, to Pattillo Higgins and Anthony Lucas who, ignoring the advice of geologists, drilled an east Texas salt dome in 1901 and discovered an oil reserve so large it gave birth to the age of petroleum. From the sinking salt towns of Cheshire in England to the celebrated salt mine on Avery Island in Louisiana; from the remotest islands in the Caribbean where roads are made of salt to rural Sichaun province, where the last home-made soya sauce is made, Mark Kurlansky has produced a kaleidoscope of history, a multi-layered masterpiece that blends economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records into a rich and memorable tale.

About the Author

Mark Kurlansky is well-known to readers through his popular books Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, and, more recently, The Basque History of the World (both published by Walker & Company.). Salt, is an appropriate bookend to these books: the story of a humble but ubiquitous substance inextricably interwoven with the history of mankind.

Salt has literally taken Mark around the world. He travelled from China to the Middle East, from Africa to Scandinavia, going back in history as far as BCE and as recently as the founding of the Morton Salt Company. What he found is recounted in his trademark voice: a blend of cultural, culinary, historical and social reportage, with recipes and illustrations throughout.

Mark has a long-standing interest in food and food history. He worked as a professional chef and pastry maker in New York and New England and currently writes a regular column about food history for Food & Wine magazine. (one of these was included in Best Food Writing 2000). His book Cod (1997) received the James Beard Award for Excellence in Food Writing, The Glenfiddich 1999 Food and Drink Award for Best Book, and was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of the Best Books of 1997. Cod was also a New York Times Business Bestseller and a Boston Globe Bestseller. The Basque History of the World (1999) underscored Mark?s passion for immersion in cultures struggling to preserve, or define their identity, and was published to similiar acclaim.

Kurlansky recently transformed 25 years experience reporting on international affairs and covering the Caribbean, into a collection of short stories and a novella titled The White Man in the Tree (Washington Square Press). With it, he made his debut as a fiction writer: the New York Times Book Review writes, ?A reader might reasonably wonder what took him so long to jump into the pool, given the strength of his talent.? He also lived for many years in Paris and Mexico and has written extensively about Europe and Latin America.

Mark has written articles for The New York Times Magazine, Harper?s, The International Herald Tribune, and Partisan Review. He is also the author of two other books, A Continent of Islands: Searching for the Caribbean Destiny (Ballantine) and The Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry (Ballantine). When not travelling around the world, Mark makes his home in New York City with his wife and daughter.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780802713735
Subtitle:
A World History
Author:
Kurlansky, Mark
Publisher:
Walker & Company
Location:
New York
Subject:
Science
Subject:
History
Subject:
World
Subject:
Real Estate
Subject:
Rocks & Minerals
Subject:
Cooking
Subject:
World history
Subject:
Salt industry and trade
Subject:
Salt
Subject:
World - General
Subject:
General History
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series Volume:
no. 2
Publication Date:
20020101
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Yes
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
5 5/8 x 8

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Related Subjects

Cooking and Food » Food Writing » Gastronomic Literature
Cooking and Food » Reference and Etiquette » Historical Food and Cooking

Salt: A World History Used Hardcover
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$15.95 In Stock
Product details 496 pages Walker & Company - English 9780802713735 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Salt is the fascinating, indispensable history of an indispensable ingredient. Like Kurlansky's earlier work, Cod, it's a must-have book for any serious cook or foodie."
"Review" by , "A lively social history that does for salt what Kurlansky previously did for cod....Enlightening and delighting as he goes, Kurlansky is, as Jane Grigson before him, a peerless food historian."
"Review" by , "Only Mark Kurlansky, winner of the James Beard Award for Excellence in Food Writing for Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, could woo readers toward such an off-beat topic of Salt: A World History....Throughout his engaging, well-researched history, Kurlansky sprinkles witty asides and amusing anecdotes. A piquant blend of the historic, political, commercial, scientific and culinary, the book is sure to entertain as well as educate."
"Review" by , "Kurlansky is in command of every facet of this topic, and he conveys his knowledge in a readable, easy style....An entertaining, informative read, this is highly recommended..."
"Synopsis" by ,
Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. Today we take salt for granted, a common, inexpensive substance that seasons food or clears ice from roads, a word used casually in expressions ("salt of the earth," take it with a grain of salt") without appreciating their deeper meaning. However, as Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates in his world- encompassing new book, salt—the only rock we eat—has shaped civilization from the very beginning. Its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind.

Until about 100 years ago, when modern chemistry and geology revealed how prevalent it is, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities, and no wonder, for without it humans and animals could not live. Salt has often been considered so valuable that it served as currency, and it is still exchanged as such in places today. Demand for salt established the earliest trade routes, across unknown oceans and the remotest of deserts: the city of Jericho was founded almost 10,000 years ago as a salt trading center. Because of its worth, salt has provoked and financed some wars, and been a strategic element in others, such as the American Revolution and the Civil War. Salt taxes secured empires across Europe and Asia and have also inspired revolution (Gandhi's salt march in 1930 began the overthrow of British rule in India); indeed, salt has been central to the age-old debate about the rights of government to tax and control economies.

The story of salt encompasses fields as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly explores. Few endeavors have inspired more ingenuity than salt making, from the natural gas furnaces of ancient China to the drilling techniques that led to the age of petroleum, and salt revenues have funded some of the greatest public works in history, including the Erie Canal, and even cities (Syracuse, New York). Salt's ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. Just as significantly, salt has shaped the history of foods like cheese, sauerkraut, olives, and more, and Kurlansky, an award-winning food writer, conveys how they have in turn molded civilization and eating habits the world over.

Salt is veined with colorful characters, from Li Bing, the Chinese bureaucrat who built the world's first dam in 250 BC, to Pattillo Higgins and Anthony Lucas who, ignoring the advice of geologists, drilled an east Texas salt dome in 1901 and discovered an oil reserve so large it gave birth to the age of petroleum. From the sinking salt towns of Cheshire in England to the celebrated salt mine on Avery Island in Louisiana; from the remotest islands in the Caribbean where roads are made of salt to rural Sichaun province, where the last home-made soya sauce is made, Mark Kurlansky has produced a kaleidoscope of history, a multi-layered masterpiece that blends economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records into a rich and memorable tale.

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