pierre laszlo

Proverb of the tardy salt

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.