Monday, January 25, 2010

Salt Shaker

I swear I did a little dance right there in the Yi Jia Yi supermarket. Eureka, I have found it! After a week of dedicated search missions to every major and minor shopping venue in the city I found the object of my hunt in my own back yard; a salt shaker. It was a glass and plastic number with your average twisting cap that alternated between sprinkle and pour. Yeah the sprinkle holes were too big but what the hell, right? It's a salt shaker in a land where salt shakers are rare and pepper shakers fail the existence test altogether.

Angie met Mandy and I outside the store. I presented my find to her noncommittal shrug while visions of culinary possibilities danced around in my head. When we arrived at our new house, the catalyst for the original journey, I gleefully retrieved the small container from my wife's purse and proudly showed it to my village-raised Mother-in-Law. She said something in Hakka, I've got no idea what it is, nor do I care. I am filling the vessel with salt and with great satisfaction, I place it next to the frying pan where it rightfully belongs. I consider banning the old salt bowl and spoon number but decide instead to let mama have hers while I have mine.

The next day the salt shaker is somehow clogged with lumps of salt. It's like mama used it to season the bottom of the soup. After I wound down my normal cleanliness tirade, I thought to ask what it was mama had said when I first showed her the shaker. Angie said in an even tone

"She said it looked like a toothpick holder,"

And it struck me true. It WAS a toothpick holder. How could I have been so blinded to it's purpose? Did I want a salt shaker so badly that I projected it's image on something else entirely? Heat intensified as I recalled my cocky presentation of this western wonder to my Chinese family. I'm an idiot. They know it, I know it, the people at Yi Jia Yi know it. It occurs to me that it really does not matter that this glass and plastic amalgam was born a toothpick holder. It has been reborn. A salt shaker has risen and I shall see to it that it's quest for greatness is fulfilled.

My eggs this morning were decidedly not over salted. My converted toothpick holder, now salt shaker, was placed up on the high shelves. It sits now in an exalted place, next to my snack stash and ground espresso coffee, up high where only I possess the legs to reach. And when my culinary cravings come caroming my way it will not be a toothpick holder that I bring down, but a salt shaker in it's sprinkle setting.


  1. too funny. try adding a few grains of rice to your salt, it will ttake up the humidity which causes your salt to clump - the grains should be too large to fit thru the holes of your toothpick holder..

  2. I know about the rice trick, sometimes the waiters forget to refill the shakers and all you get is rice flour when you need a little sodium.

  3. Very cool piece... Congrats on your "find"

  4. Love finds with funny stories. I think the greatest things in life are often the smallest...that sounds like a quote from somewhere.
    Good to finally be here.

  5. I see you were finding glee where it be even before the piece that brought me here today. Fun stuff Daniel!