The Black Fast, a Mortification of the Appetite

With Lent fast approaching (February 17, 2010), an examination of fasting and other fleshly challenges seems apropos. Religious-based fasting, in the history of English speakers anyway, belies its importance in the commonly used word for the first meal of the day: breakfast or “break fast.” After all, for much of Western European history, almost half…

Salt of the Earth

Salt --- so basic, so ordinary, and so bloody.** And one of the earliest trade items, and a "tool" in burials  (mummification), food preservation, and medicine (as a disinfectant). A recent re-reading of Mark Kurlansky’s Salt: A World History (2002) reminded me of the sheer insouciance with which we consider salt.  Yet, as Kurlansky says,…