Buy French Salt and Smuggling Through the Border
The term “fleur de sel” or “bargain de sal” literally means “of a salty taste.” These terms come from the word, “sal,” which in the French language is pronounced with an accent on the first syllable, and, of course, “de.” The salt came about in the 18th century through French fishermen, who would buy it from the locals at the shore, clean it, salt it and then resell it to other restaurants and markets. It became a highly popular cooking agent for high-end restaurants and for those who loved to taste salty tastes, like the crew on pirate ships.
During the French Revolution, King Louis XIV forbade anyone from bringing foreign spices into the country. This was true not only of salt but also of all foods imported from afar. As a result, salt wasn’t easy to obtain, so sailors relied on contraband salt, which they obtained by boiling fresh herbs and spices on their ships and selling them to the French. In fact, during the reign of Queen Marie Antoinette, merchants who did not ship their goods back home were arrested.
During the following centuries, French peasants learned how to cook French salt on their own farms, and soon the salt became extremely valuable to French farmers. Knowing that salt was a precious resource, French citizens even went so far as to destroy salt mines on the coasts of Africa and Asia if they were captured by pirates. When the salt mines of the Mediterranean closed, however, the demand for French salt faded. For a time, France was forced to import tin and lead to the development of tin mining, which has been responsible for the current global crisis.
Because of the salt shortage, French citizens once again turned to the sea for salt. Thus, in addition to flour, sugar and beans, the French learned that they could trade salt for guns, horses, cargoes and other luxury items. This practice soon became known as guises. In addition, during this time, the French discovered the river guiers. In the 12th century, they learned that it was possible to cross the Guianas on rafts made of wood, and this discovery eventually led to the flooding of the rivers of Southern France. When the floods recede, new settlements were built along the rivers, giving the French the same knowledge they had when they traded with the ocean.
As mentioned earlier, the practice of trading with the ocean took off in Southern France. Thus, in the city of Orleans merchants began to buy French salt from the sea gabelle. The word “gabelle” means wooden gun, hence the name of the wooden gun range known as the petite belle. The term petite belle refers to a weapon having a short barrel. It is difficult to judge the historical value of these weapons, since the exact date of their invention is unknown.
The origin of the petite belle may be determined by the root word of its name. Petite gable is a diminutive form of the word petite, which means small. Today, the petite belle has been adopted by other countries such as Australia and New Zealand as a slang for prohibited drugs. The term contraband has also come to mean illegal goods. Thus, today it is used to refer to any item that is illegally purchased or sold.
By the time of the French Revolution, contraband goods were very common. For example, it is estimated that up to one hundred and fifty million pounds of salt could be imported into France every year. At that time, the metal content in the salt was very low, making the process of melting the salt for manufacturing too expensive. Thus, French peasants were able to enjoy the freedom of trading with the continentals by simply buying salt and reselling it at a profit.
As the Industrial Revolution approached, however, the smuggling of salt became less common. Thus, the French peasants did not buy any large amounts of the salty product during this period. Moreover, the methods used to bring salt into the country gradually changed. Instead of lugging it through the narrow streets of a small town, they began using wagons and hitching them to carts drawn by asses. Thus, by the late eighteen hundreds, the practice of shipping goods over the frontier began to decline along with the overall trade deficit.