What is food without taste, flavor or spices? Bland. Well the most important and enhancing accompaniments for a meal is salt and pepper. Salt is the basic ingredient and the most indispensable spice needed for cooking. It is the basic thing that makes food edible besides cooking food. Salt and pepper are such perfect companions on a dining table that the dinner table is not completely set without these two. It is difficult to even think of food with out the basic salt and pepper.
Salt is a very important component that helps to bring out the taste in food making it more palatable and tasty. How else would you bring out the taste in those delicacies you dish out in your kitchen unless they are sweets? Salt is actually a very essential mineral in our diet and it comprises mainly of sodium chloride which is essential for life. Salt is also known to be the oldest seasoning used for making food taste better. It is used as a preservative as well. But did you know that salt produced for our consumption is mostly refined, iodized salt. Salt also helps in regulating the water content in our bodies. Both over consumption as well as less consumption can lead to various health issues.
Canning and artificial refrigeration for preserving food is the latest method of preservation. Prior to this salting was the best known method to preserve foods like meats etc. Harvesting salt goes way back to 6000BC in China from the Xiechi Lake and this makes it one of the oldest salt harvesting places in the world.
Salt and pepper taste best when freshly ground. Salt mills are a must and are commonly used in many hotel kitchens and now in most homes too. Salt is good for health but in a limited quantity. There are different types of salts available in the market and each of these has special grinders to provide you with freshly ground salt.
Many traditions followed by different cultures and religions have salt as a part of their rites e.g. salt is used in exorcism, and in Hindu mythology salt is considered sacred and auspicious in functions like marriages and housewarmings etc. even the native religion Shinto followed by the Japanese has the use of salt for purification of locations and people. Salt is known to be a symbolic element of earth and also a purifier of sacred and blessed places.
Salt obtained from different regions have different flavors depending on the region especially that which is harvested by hand. In its crystalline form salt can be white, or pink or even light grey in color this depends on the mineral content of each area from where it is obtained. It is so surprising that salt does not just play an important role in flavoring our dishes but also in various religious rites and rituals. This shows how much importance man has given to salt and how it has helped mankind.