Salt cellar

Salt cellar

A salt cellar is a bowl, usually small, for holding salt. The use of salt cellars continued through the 1940s, but has been in decline since and been gradually replaced with salt shakers. The exterior surfaces of modern cellars are frequently decorated with birds, lemons or other designs, and may have the word "salt" or "S" on them in various languages. A salt cellar often has a lid to protect the contents and keep it dry. The lid may be made of the same material as the cellar, or a different one (for example, a porcelain cellar with a wooden lid). [ Salt cellars] , also known as salt dips, open salts, and salt dishes, are not cellars at all, but an open dish, without a lid, that was used by wealthy families from the middle ages until WW II. The [ bowl] , along with a very small spoon, was passed to guests by the head of the household. It is still possible to find salt cellars today, but they are not used as table decorations. They have lids and are used near the stove so the cook has easy access to salt while preparing meals. These are less likely to be elaborately decorated, and may have a range of designs for ease of use. For example, a salt cellar with a high back containing a hole allows the cellar to be mounted to a wall. Another style is a container shaped like a curved tube. The curvature protects the salt a little, but the cellar is open allowing the cook to reach in and take salt. Salt cellars used to be made of glass, but in recent times can be found in many different [ media] , including porcelain, pewter, silver, and wood. Sometime after 1950, salt cellars have become a coveted collectible.

In ancient times salt was a precious commodity. In Tibet, according to Marco Polo, cakes of salt displayed a likeness of the ruler and were used as [ money] . In ancient Greece, slaves were traded for salt and over 2000 years before the birth of Christ, the Chinese emperor levied a [ salt tax] . Not only was this the first salt tax, it was first tax of any kind.

During the Middle Ages, when salt was a valuable commodity, salt would be kept on the table in elaborate metal or glass dishes as a status symbol. Being granted the favor of sharing the salt cellar of the host was seen as a sign of great respect. The social status of a person was often measured simply by judging the distance at which the guest sat from the master's salt cellar. In the more recent past, salt was still very costly and precious. For example, before refrigeration salt was the main ingredient for [ preserving food] .

In the early 20th century, moisture absorbing agents [magnesium carbonate] were added to salt and it was no longer sold in blocks, but was [ finely ground] . In 1924, [ Morton] became the first company to produce iodized salt for the table to help prevent goiters, recognized as a widespread health problem in the U.S. at that time. Salt cellars were replaced with salt shakers somewhere around [ 1950] .

See also

*salt shaker

External links

* [ Medieval and Renaissance Saltcellars]
* [ Open Salts: Worth Their Salt]
* [ History of the Salt Shaker and Salt Cellar]
* [ The History of Morton Salt]
* [ These holders are worth their weight in salt]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • salt cellar — salt .cellar n BrE [Date: 1400 1500; Origin: cellar from Old French salliere, from Latin salarium, from sal salt ] a small container for salt American Equivalent: salt shaker …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • salt cellar — UK US noun [countable] [singular salt cellar plural salt cellars] british a small container with a lid that has holes in it, used for pouring salt on food Thesaurus: crockery used for serving and pouring food and drinks …   Useful english dictionary

  • salt cellar — ► NOUN ▪ a dish or container for storing salt. ORIGIN cellar is from Old French salier salt box …   English terms dictionary

  • salt cellar — salt cellars N COUNT A salt cellar is a small container for salt with a hole or holes in the top for shaking salt onto food. [BRIT] (in AM, use salt shaker) …   English dictionary

  • salt cellar — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms salt cellar : singular salt cellar plural salt cellars British a small container with a lid that has holes in it, used for pouring salt on food …   English dictionary

  • salt cellar — salt holder, vessel for serving salt …   English contemporary dictionary

  • salt cellar — noun a dish or container for storing salt, typically a closed container with perforations in the lid for sprinkling. Origin ME: from salt + obs. saler, from OFr. salier salt box , from L. salarium (see salary); the change in spelling of the… …   English new terms dictionary

  • salt-cellar — n. 1 a vessel holding salt for table use. 2 colloq. an unusually deep hollow above the collar bone, esp. found in women. Etymology: SALT + obs. saler f. AF f. OF salier salt box f. L (as SALARY), assim. to CELLAR …   Useful english dictionary

  • salt cellar — noun a) A small open container holding salt for use in the kitchen or on a dining table b) A salt shaker …   Wiktionary

  • salt cellar — noun (C) BrE a small container for salt; salt shaker AmE …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

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