…you shake it all up!

Imagine that you’re sitting down to a meal with real plates and silverware, a main dish, and side dishes all steaming. Only one thing lacks: that last little dash of salt that will bring out all the flavors. You pick up your glass salt shaker, turn it over, and give it a shake.

Nothing falls onto your food.

The salt falls to the holes in a thick clump. You shake harder and a few grains of salt finally fall, still clinging to each other like triplets on their first day of kindergarten. You frown. Your salt is damp. It’s soaked up every bit of moisture from your humid kitchen. So, what should you do about it?

You do what salt-lovers have done: put a pinch full of dried rice into your saltshaker. Rice will absorb the dampness more quickly than your salt, keeping it dry and ready to distribute evenly across your dishes. But wait, Lindsey, isn’t that a myth?

No, my friend. It is not. As someone who lived and frequently vacationed on the coast of Texas where the humidity level is between 70%-100% on 235 days of the year, we always kept rice in the salt shakers. When I grew older, I filled it without bothering to add the rice and found that, yes, it does work.

Rice isn’t something you would think of as a Texas crop, but we do grow it on the coast. My grandmother told stories of sneaking away to swim in the rice canals – and the dire consequences when one of her friends jumped in to see it was safe. He landed in a bed of water moccasins . He surfaced, with multiple snakes hanging off him and managed to say, “Don’t come in.” Then he sank back under while his young companions stood with wide eyes and gaped jaws. That put an end to the canal swims.

But there is a much more light-hearted story about how rice came to Matagorda County, Texas. If you visit the Matagorda County Museum, you can see a teapot, cup, and saucer on display. In 1901, a farmer named Victor Lawrence Letulle and his wife hosted a Japanese farmer. When their visit was complete, the Japanese farmer asked if he could send a gift to his host.

Letulle requested a tea set from Japan. When the visitor explained that such an endeavor would be futile as the tea set would surely break on the long journey, Letulle requested that it be packed in a barrel and cushioned with a certain kind of rice. When it arrived, Mrs. Letulle received a beautiful tea set and her husband a barrel full of rice which he put to good use in his field.

And thus, the first rice field sprung up in Matagorda County, Texas. You may not need an entire barrel of rice, but if you’re having trouble with your salt clumping, try the salt trick!

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