Monday, June 8, 2009

Salt pigs

There is an old-fashioned kitchen item called a salt pig, which is a ceramic container that holds salt at the ready for the cook to take out a pinch. Presumably it's called a pig because its opening resembles a pig's snout (although there is a Scottish word, pyg, that means earthenware crock, so perhaps that feeds into this, too).

I've always wanted to have a salt pig, but I just can't figure out what the point is. It seems clear that the designer of the original salt pig (they've been around for centuries) must have had some important functionality in mind. I read a lively discussion on Chowhound about salt pigs and everyone's best guess is that it was originally intended to:

• keep soot from the wood or coal stove out of the salt
• keep dust out (??)
• keep moisture out

I keep my salt in a little ceramic bowl near the stove and it works just fine, but I will confess that, in the comings and goings of spoons and dripping things, every once in awhile I manage to cause little clumps in my salt bowl. Perhaps that little protective hood would prevent this.

In any case, the aesthetics of the salt pig are perhaps enough. Here's a round-up:

1 Porcelain pig from Williams-Sonoma. $17
2 Danesco porcelain pig from Target. $14
3 African-inspired pig from Bunny Safari on $30
4 Pink pig from chef $8
5 Stoneware pigs from Sur la Table. $10
6 Jamie Oliver Terracotta pig from $26.50

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