Ranger reader Dave Larkin has been hot on the virtual trail of the salted pigeon story. Following up the tale he found some remarkable images of products from yesteryear showing little children putting salt on birds’ tails… and now he’s gone a step further, discovering this intriguing French woodcut from 1557:
The caption reads:
Les femmes sallent leurs maris pour du doux les rendre gueris
The Ranger’s feeble French mangles this to:
Women salt their husbands to softly cure them
More accurate translations would be much welcomed! But frankly, the idea is pretty outlandish however you translate it. It looks as though the two chaps (yes, there are two of them in there) are putting up a bit of resistance, and possibly being locked into a kind of barrel, presumably in the salt-pork style to be kept over winter. The salt, in copious quantities, is being applied to the naked backside of the right-hand fellow, whilst his companion seems to have it poured onto his shoulder. What’s all that about?
UPDATE: A far better translation and a much more forthright explanation is provided in the comments below.