In ancient times the first gesture of welcoming someone was to offer bread and salt. Bread restores strength, and salt is necessary for our health. Even today, in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe, this tradition of graciously welcoming neighbors and strangers to your home with bread and salt is practiced. Historically, once you offered bread and salt to a guest in your home, you were in a covenant of peace with them.
To create the still life for this painting I baked challah bread, the braided loaf that is served for Sabbath dinner on Friday night. The soft rose colored cloth the challah and salt are on was woven by my great aunt Ellen in Sweden. It is quite worn and fragile, yet I treasure it because it was carefully made by her loving and prayerful hands. The table which holds the bread and salt has been in my family for over 100 years. Countless meals have been celebrated around this sturdy table.
We have an amazingly long history with this simple substance, NaCl, sodium chloride, or just plain salt. Whether from the sea or from a mine in the mountains, salt is essential to our lives, and links us to each other. In a society that moves at such a fast pace, may we discover anew the welcoming peace of a table set with bread and salt.