Salt by Mark Kurlansky

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Informed by rich historical research, this book lets us look at salt from a whole new perspective. One of the most common seasoning products today, we are so familiar with salt that we often give its existence for granted, until a natural disaster or other emergencies hit and people rush to the supermarkets to hoard it up. Maybe it is only during difficult times that people realize the importance of salt in their day-to-day life.

There is a French folktale centered on this idea. A princess once said to her father, the King, "I love you like salt." In her mind, she wanted to express to her father that he was the most important person in her life. But the King misunderstood her and, angry at being compared to something as common as salt, exiled her. Later, that the King’s doctor told him he needed to control his salt intake. After tasting unseasoned food, he realized that salt may be common, but we cannot live without it. Only then he truly understood what his daughter wanted to say.

More often than not, we see salt from the King's perspective, dismissing it as something common and ordinary. Mark Kurlansky's book Salt instead offers us the chance to see it from the princess's perspective, diving deep into the history of salt to show that there’s much more to it than a bunch of tiny crystals, and that, instead, it has been a driving force for the development of human society and economy.

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