Salt is iyọ̀.
It comes from the etymological root of “yọ̀,” which means sweet, glad, smooth, fluid.
It is from “yọ̀” that “ayọ̀” (joy) is derived.
Yoruba names such as Ayodele, Ayodeji, Adedayo, etc, are names alluding to salt, sweetness and joy.
Humans started enjoying salt at the beginning of time.
We sweat when we exert ourselves physically and sweat contains salt.
Babies also cry and tears contain salt.
And sometimes the sweat finds its way to our tongue.
Babies enjoy tasting salt from the tears they cry.
Once we discovered the sweetness of salt from crying and sweating, we began craving for it as a table condiment.
Until the international trade intensified via transatlantic and transsahara and Indian Ocean routes, salt was a really scarce commodity in Yorubaland and south of the Sahara.
In north Africa, salt was always available from the mammoth salt mines of the Sahara. Camels and boats have moved millions of tons of creamy, high-grade salt from these mines throughout the southern regions of Africa, within highly organized commercial activities dating to prehistoric eras.
Salt is used for several things, including the preservation of food, before the advent of refrigeration, especially in the hot and humid climates Africa without the relief of snow and naturally occurring icy weather.
Salt, therefore, has been a highly desired commodity, and is one of the most important items used in naming ceremonies among Yoruba people, and since it is also an essential part of the people’s diet for hundreds of years.
Before the advent of salt, Yoruba people used òbu, a condiment prepared from processing palm kernel.
A few locations in Yoruba country (for example in Ilobu) contain salt mines, though the salt is not as creamy and delicious as the Sahara-derived salt.
But salt is a chemical that increases blood pressure if not consumed in moderation.
As people get older, they need to watch their salt consumption to prevent cardiovascular problems.
This is why anybody above the age of forty needs to explore salt alternatives in their food, and use table salt in moderation.
As someone who prepares almost all my own meals, I was, therefore, happy to find a great book on cooking without salt, by the artist Oluseyi Art Alade.
I got a copy of the book from Amazon yesterday and wanted to share it with you.
Salt as Iyọ̀ is supposed to bring sweetness, gladness, happiness and smoothness to the table, from the Yoruba perspective.
Excessive intake of salt could result in the very opposite.
Olodumare will not turn our ayọ̀ (joy) and iyọ (salt) into bitterness and tragedy.
Iyọ̀ is SLIPPERY.
Ayọ̀ ni o.
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