Salt: A World History: by Pete Mulvihill

Don’t forget: the book mentioned below is available at 20% off for tablehopper readers for two weeks following this mention at Green Apple Books—simply use the code “tablehopper” at checkout (either at the store or online) for your discount.

Salt: A World History

Salt: A World History
Mark Kurlansky (Penguin)

Since the excellent crop of food and cookbook releases this past winter, things have been kind of quiet in our cooking section. There’s a new vegetarian book from Nobu, but it’s not screaming for my attention—it’s pretty, but pretty haute. (By the way, Plenty, our favorite vegetable cookbook of the last few years, is back in stock after being gone for a while.)

Which brings me to an old favorite: Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. First published about ten years ago, it’s one of those “little big” books, a book that takes a seemingly narrow topic and illustrates a wider window on the world and its history.

From trivial tidbits (the word salary is from the Latin sal for salt) to exhaustive chapters (like the one on the gabelle—the French tax on salt), Kurlansky keeps things moving throughout history, always using salt as a narrative thread.

Digest the whole book and either become the bore at your next cocktail party, or limit yourself to an incredible anecdote or two. Either way, Salt is a great window into world history, told charmingly and exhaustively. As the SF Chronicle said when the book first came out, “This is terrific food writing; like fleur de sel, something scarce and to be savored.”

Thanks for reading.