It was a cold and rainy day at the cemetery.
Gray black clouds blocked the sunlight and seemed to cast a shadow over our hearts.
As the coffin lowered the remains of my great-grandmother into the ground, my eyes locked with my sister’s across the grave.
It was just a moment, but that moment spoke volumes.
Now that great-grandmother was dead, the pact had ended.
Now could the family secret be told at last.
Now could the world know the recipe that is…
Boiled Salted Water!
The tale of Boiled Salted Water is one of great adventure and love. It began centuries ago, in the deserts of Arabia. There lived a beautiful woman named Greta who served boiled water. Even though the others in her clan said it was the best thing they had ever tasted, she knew it could be better.
A few sand dunes away lived a man named Ali who had discovered a lump of salt in his youth while digging in the ground. One day, his pet squid went missing, and as he was searching for the beloved pet, he smelled something delicious wafting from a nearby tent.
He entered Greta’s tent and inquired about what she was cooking. She gladly showed the young handsome man her pot of boiling water, confiding that it still lacked something. He quickly showed her his lump of salt, and when they added it to the water, Greta knew that she had found the missing ingredient to her recipe and her heart.
Greta and Ali married and had many children. The recipe was passed down from son to son and daughter to daughter, staying in Arabia until one daughter married a squid juggler from Russia. His name was Ivan Onger Valisky the VII, sixth in the line of the house of Earlstoke but his friends called him “Biddy.”
Biddy and his wife lived in a small city in Siberia. They lived happily there many years, but tragedy struck when a small group of over-zealous Cossacks became convinced that with the salted water, they could build an invincible army. They stormed the young couple’s house but Ivan was able to fight them off using his deadly squid juggling skills.
After that, they knew that this recipe must be kept secret, and made the pact that only family members may know the recipe, and decided to move to America.
The family grew and lived in harmony until approximately 12 June 1857 at 1:03 AM. It was then that my great, great-uncle Henry suggested that sea salt might be a good type of salt to use. This caused a massive argument, at the apex of which my great, great aunt Melva hurled a curse at Henry, “May all your squids develop dandruff!”
The resulting schism lasted seven years. Finally, it was decided many types of salts could be used in the recipe.
But the secrecy pact was still in force. Even when Ip Man Sao, the famous pork rind merchant of Hunan, China, offered my great-grandmother an ancient squid once owned by Emperor Wu, she refused to share the recipe.
The offer from Ip Man did make her consider that maybe it was time for the recipe to be released to the rest of the world. She asked that it be done after she had left this earth.
And this is why I can now post these most ancient and secret instructions for:
BOILED SALTED WATER
Ancient traditional recipe:
Put in water
Set pot on strong fire.
Watch carefully with mighty eye.
When first three bubbles appear add salt.
Let boil for five chirps of the cricket.
Let cool for five to seven chirps of the cricket.
Modern recipe with variations:
Salt (sea salt, iodized or Earth)
Fill saucepan to desired level and set on high heat.
Salt can be added before or during the boiling cycle. (Uncle Fizbot likes to add it after it’s done boiling, but no one else in family likes it that way.)
Let boil for two and a half to three minutes.
Serve hot, warm, cool or even chilled (a favorite in the South).
I leave you with an old family blessing,
“May your squids never know the sorrow of a cold, hard bed, with only a rock for a pillow.”