Ahh salt. The holy salt! I always enjoy the superstitions that arise at bike races, salt passing and spilling being two of them. As an American, when I was growing up, if somebody asked you to pass them the salt, you grabbed the salt shaker with one of your hands, and you passed that person the salt, usually from your hand straight to their hand. I mean, it is just second nature. You are just passing salt. For most European bike racers, this is a NO NO. One thing I have had to get used to this year, is that it takes a couple extra seconds to salt your food.
Salt rule number 1: NEVER pass the salt hand to hand, always place the shaker on the table in front of the person you wish to pass it to.
It is quite comical to be passing the salt to someone who asked for it, just to have them look at you like you are crazy for holding it up in front of their face. No Taylor, I will not take the salt from your hands, put it on the table in front of me. I attempted to find the origin of this superstition online, but could only find an old saying; ‘pass the salt, pass the sorrow’. Other than that there isn’t a whole lot of info on it.
Needless to say, I don’t pass the salt hand to hand anymore at bike races for fear of being chewed out by my entire team.
Salt rule number 2: Do not spill the salt, if you do–throw some over your left shoulder.
This superstition is more commonly practiced all over the world–at least I knew about it BEFORE I raced with Euros. At our dinner table, however, when someone spills the salt it is usually followed by the entire team exclaiming NOOOO or something like AMATEUUUUUR. I’m not sure the yelling is common practice worldwide, but that is how we roll. The salt-spiller then takes more salt and throws it over his left shoulder. I looked into this superstition as well and have come to some interesting conclusions.
Back in biblical times salt was hard to come by and somewhat of a commodity. Spilling these expensive tiny white rocks of goodness was considered almost sacrilegious and left the culprit exposed to the DEVIL. The salt offender then was supposed to throw more salt over his/her left shoulder. This motion is apparently akin to blessing someone after they have sneezed and is a way of ‘keeping the devil at bay while you are in an especially vulnerable moment’. So this motion of throwing more salt over your shoulder is either to blind the Devil, since he is very predictable and only creeps up on your left side, OR it is to distract the Devil while you are cleaning up your mess.
Ok, I have a couple issues with this.
1. If this is all truth, the Devil is a dumbass. The left side, every time? Really Devil? So the last millions of times you went sneaking up on some poor innocent soul vulnerable from spilling salt, and he or she promptly blasted you in the face with MORE salt, you never once considered maybe the right shoulder was a better option?
2. The devil has ADHD. So let me get this straight. I drop salt, salt is now spilt on the table. Devil sees this and thinks ‘yeah you little sh*t, I’m gonna take your soul!’ But before he can get close enough I have already thrown more salt on the ground behind me (just wasting more of this precious commodity–no big deal). Devil sees this action and immediately gets confused and distracted by the white stuff now on the ground. And by the time he realizes why he came all this way from Hell just to take my soul in this moment of incredible vulnerability, my mess is cleaned up…and he can no longer take my soul…?
Conclusion: as a people, we are all idiots. Yes, myself included, because even though I bash them, I comply with these unwritten salt rules.
C’est la vie.