Wednesday, March 14, 2007


When I was a child, I remember that church members (my dad was a pastor) would bring back fish for our family from their fishing trips. It would often be more than we could eat in a day or even a couple of days. I remember that my dad would pull out this interesting contraption: it was basically a large, hinged wooden box with a screen on the top. My dad would line it with newspaper, open the screen door, and place the fish in it to dry in the sun. The screen allowed the light and heat from the sun in, but keep the flies out.

What was important was that my mom salted the fish beforehand, as a preserving agent. It would, of course, give the fish a lot of flavor.

Even though we had a refrigerator, my mom and dad often used the screen box to prepare fish that way. I'm pretty sure that's what they did growing up in Korea with little or no refrigeration, and that's how they preserved the fish, but they also learned to like eating fish like that...maybe with a bit of nostalgia as well.

When I visited the South, I learned to love salt cured country ham (especially if it came from Virginia, Smithfield or Williamsburg in particular). These were prepared this way to keep the meat from spoiling

The ancient Hawaiians valued salt very highly and used it for many different purposes. One of them is a purification ceremony, in which Hawaiian salt is mixed with water for healing (see

Salt is also used in pottery, added to the fire at a certain point to form unique glazing patterns.

Salt has come into some bad press in these contemporary times for causing hypertension, etc. But for most of history, the image of salt has always been a positive one: purification, preserving, healing, seasoning, beautification.

In chapter nine of Mark, Jesus talks about having salt in yourselves. He had earlier talked about how everything that comes out of a person is unclean (pretty vivid image, if you have to think about it). But if one has salt in them, the whole host of good things happens: healing, preservation and purification of our souls; flavoring our lives; putting a unique stamp of beauty on each one of us.

Pretty good image....

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