A World Traveler’s View on the Value of Salt

After years of travel, one trend I’ve noticed is the influence and importance of salt. Each nation finds a unique value in this mineral. I’d like to share a couple of stories and my perspective on the topic.

Salt is something that we all use in, and in most cases, have on our kitchen table at home. At one time salt was as precious as gold. In fact, it was often traded in exchange for gold. People would say “They were worth their salt or they weren’t worth their salt”.

The salt mines in Poland are some of the largest in the world. The mines go down as well as sideways for kilometres in every direction. In areas of the salt mine, the miners have carved out cathedrals with statues made of salt. I had the good fortune of witnessing the camel caravans that carry salt across the Sahara Desert. And in the Indonesia Islands, I watched people transport salt from the ocean and turn it into salt for everyday use.

Why You Want Salt in Your Tea

In a remote area of Turkey, I met a young man in his mid-twenties. He was one of the guides that showed visitors around the monasteries and relics of centuries past. As we got to know each other, we had a fondness for sharing knowledge. It was then that he told me about arranged marriages and that he had an arranged marriage. Long before he ever met his wife-to-be, his parents made the arrangements with her parents. It often started with the mothers talking about their children and would lead to the acceptance of the fathers welcoming their new daughter to their home.

This young man had barely reached 19 when his father escorted him to the home of his future wife to meet her father and discuss their marriage. As the three men sat in a small living area, the two elder men discussed the future of their children. When both men agreed that the children should get married, the daughter was asked to bring in refreshments. She brought in a tray with three cups of tea. She gave the first cup to her father and then the second cup to the young man’s father.

However, this is where the critical part of the relationship comes: when she handed the young man his cup of tea, he wondered whether it would have salt in it or just plain tea. If it had salt in it, this would mean that she would not only marry him, but she would love him. If it did not have salt in it, that would mean that she would marry him, but she would not love him.

To his happiness, his cup of tea had salt! I asked if he knew any man that did not have salt in his tea on his betrothal. The young man pointed to his older friend near us. This man looked tired and unhappy. Unfortunately, he never received salt in his tea.

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