Unfortunately, salt has become a bad word in the culinary and health-food trade. The trend these days is for writers and TV reporters and marketing experts to pussyfoot around the issue or to capitalize on it by treating salt in the negative. As a result, a lot of modern people suffer from what I call salphobia. I wrestle a round or two with this problem in Chapter 1 because I feel obliged to do so to the best of my ability. At this point I want to say two things: In the short term, skimping on the salt used for home-cured and smoked meats and fish can be very dangerous to your health; indeed, an unsalted turkey put into an electric smoker during windy or cold weather, along with a pan of water to keep the moisture up, can be a veritable salmonella factory. In the long term, cutting out salt-cured and home-preserved meats has brought us to rely more and more on supermarket fare. Read the newspapers. People die of food poisoning. Chicken has become a toxic substance. We are told to cook everything until well done, even prime T-bone beefsteak. We are told to wash our hands thoroughly after handling meat. We are told to spray the countertop with Lysol. The situation is so bad that we hear more and more about zapping supermarket foods with radiation. Safely, we are told. Our “cured” hams are already embalmed with water and chemicals. Safely, we are told.