“Of all smells, bread; of all tastes, salt.”
–George Herbert, English poet (1593-1633)
I decided to make corn bread this morning. It thought it would be a nice change from my usual weekday breakfast of oatmeal or yogurt with fruit. It was okay, especially with the touch of what we call “library honey”—the locally produced honey that we buy at the West Deptford Public Library. (Books and honey in one spot. How wonderful is that?)
The past few times I’ve made cornbread, it was—I have to say this—amazing. I’ve been using the same recipe for years, so the only thing I can think that made it more wonderful, is the substitution of almond milk for regular milk. This morning, however, the cornbread was just okay. The extra “zing” was missing. That’s because I accidentally omitted the salt.
Salt has been lauded since ancient times. References are found in the Bible and in ancient manuscripts. In the past, salt was so important that it was used for money. The word “salary” is derived from the Latin word salarium, which referred to the money given to soldiers to buy salt. Cities have been founded and wars fought over access to salt. According to Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky, the city of Buffalo, NY, was founded on a salt lick. Buffaloes and other animals followed a trail to reach the salt lick, and humans followed the animals. Humans need some salt in their bodies, although many people consume far too much.
Salt helps to bring out flavors. I started thinking about how desirable it is to have a bit of metaphorical salt in our everyday lives. We need to add that bit of flavor enhancement—the compliment to a co-worker, the hug to a loved one, the actually voiced, “I love you,” the call just to say, “Hello.” Yes, a day can be fine without any of those things, but some praise, a sign of admiration, a kind word, a loving touch, these things blend the ingredients of everyday life and help turn an ordinary day into one that is more appetizing, or even luscious.
This is the recipe I use for cornbread. If you make it, don’t forget the salt!
Thanks for reading. Hope your day is delicious, filled with flavor, and maybe even a bit of spice!
Corn Bread (adapted from Anna Thomas, The Vegetarian Epicure, Vintage Books, 1972.
1 ¼ cups unbleached white flour
¾ corn meal
4 Tbsp. sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. salt
1 cup milk (or unsweetened almond milk)
2 Tbsp. melted butter
Sift together dry ingredients. Beat the egg with the milk and add it to the flour mixture along with the melted butter. Stir up everything together. Spread the batter in a greased 9-inch pie plate. Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes (I usually find it does not take that long, so make sure you check it before then.) Eat it—especially still warm with good honey—and swoon.