pierre laszlo

Proverb of the tardy salt

The Dutch proverb "hij komt met het zout als het ei op is" finds its French equivalent in the proverb of the carabinieri (Italian military police) who always arrive too late. <TN: This refers to the French expression, "arriver comme les carabiniers," "to get there after the fact."> The literal translation of it is: "He brings the salt once the egg is eaten." The point is to make it at the right time, dead on, knowingly.
This saying shows depth by giving existential significance to a mundane feature of daily life. It deals actually with the importance of offering help, or at the very least counsel, at the right moment, before it is too late.

Salt, in proverbs often associated with eggs, has the function here of an indicator of sociality <QPL: Ok as is? Oh yes>. Just as in the words of Jesus (the salt of the earth), salt, which imparts flavor to all foods, takes on the metaphorical meaning of all that gives value to relations among human beings.

It is written in the gospel of Matthew (5:13):
You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its savour, how shall its saltness be restored? It is no longer good for anything; it is thrown out and trodden under foot by men." <The Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Bible Publishers,1971), translation adapted.>

This passage comes right after the Sermon on the Mount. We can note the structural analogy between the Dutch proverb and Christ's pronouncement: each emphasizes a total revaluation of salt. In both, salt symbolizes a bond between human beings, their brotherhood, and above all a moral conscience, the conscience that will give help to others, to assist them when in need.