I love spicy food. I really do – hot curries, flavourful puddings, the more taste it has, the better. My sister accuses me of being an “auto-condimentiser”, because I almost always automatically add salt to my meal before I’ve even taken a bite.
“Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
In our highly processed, instant world, the word “seasoned” often conjures images in our minds of MSG-laden foods, or bright red concoctions that’ll have our kids bouncing off the walls in twenty minutes flat!
But seasonings can be a good thing. In fact, studies show that capsaicin, the active ingredients in chillis, can be very beneficial for asthma sufferers. It also helps with migraines and certain types of headaches. Ginger is known to relieve nausea and indigestion. It is also useful for blocked sinuses, assists in the absorption of nutrients, and has healing properties. Cinnamon reduces cholesterol and blood sugar levels over time, and reminds us of the holidays!
And then there’s salt. No kitchen is without salt, and it has many essential functions.
Functions of salt:
- Add flavour
- Clean and disinfect
Bland food is magically transformed into gourmet cuisine with a sprinkle of salt. It adds flavour to any dish – even chocolate! More importantly, it enhances the flavour already there. A little salt brings out the best in each element of a meal. Even sweet foods get a touch of pizzazz with a pinch of salt.
Do you like biltong? In our house, it’s practically a staple food, and by far the number one reason so few South Africans choose to be vegetarians. What makes biltong awesome? Salt. Salt preserves food, making it last for longer, while still being safe for human consumption. In ancient times, before the invention of useful devices like refrigerators, salt was a valuable commodity in keeping food fresh and healthy.
Salt cleans. It disinfects. If you’ve ever had toothache, a mouth ulcer, or a sore throat, a teaspoon or two of salt in a little lukewarm water is the perfect gargle to sort it out – and so economical, too!
In fact, salt was so valuable that part of a Roman soldier’s annual salary was paid in salt.