The importance of salt

“Oh no,” I thought, when I tasted the beef stew the other night, “did I forget the salt?!” Can’t believe I did, but I do tend to be quite light-handed with adding salt to dishes. And, because the sauce reduced rather too much, or too quickly, or both, I did add a cup or so of water to the casserole towards the end of the cooking… maybe that altered the balance? (And maybe I forgot to taste the dish – even though the reality TV cooking show judges are forever asking that of harried contestants!!!) Still, people weren’t reaching for the salt cellar after their first mouthful, so it can’t have been too bad. But it did remind me of a story I loved as a child. A vain king has three daughters … he summons them & demands they each declare how much they love him … the eldest two say all the expected flattering things … the youngest, who of course he loves the best, says only “I love you as much as salt loves meat.” In a rage he banishes her … eventually, though, she gets a job in the royal kitchens & one night manages to make sure the meat goes unsalted. At table the king gags on his meal, has an epiphany … and they all live happily ever after, the king suitably chastened. Of course!

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