Salt is Topsham’s new wet fish shop and deli, offering a fabulous array of local fish and shellfish, in some cases purchased direct from fisherman or from local fishing boats, plus seafood dishes, sauces and more freshly prepared in the award-winning kitchen of the Salutation Inn. The business was born in lockdown when Tom and Amelia Williams-Hawkes wanted to continue to provide for the community and support our local fisherman. Says Tom, “We are opening in times when sustainability and local produce are even more prevalent in our hearts and more important than ever. Please come and see us for a fresh catch, a multitude of condiments and of course salt.”
True to its name, Salt offers a range of fine sea and other salts from around the world. Topsham in fact has a long history of association with this most basic of table condiments. When the Roman Legionnaires arrived in Topsham part of their wage was paid in salt money and this being the origin of the present meaning of ‘salary’. The Romans used salt to preserve their vegetables later known as ‘salad’.
Salt was an important commodity, not least for preserving fish in times before refrigeration. The Newfoundland cod trade demanded large amounts of salt and in 1737 Topsham imported 6380 bushels compared with Plymouth’s 5235 bushels. If the Newfoundland bankers ran out of salt they had to finish their season and frequently sailed to Portugal to sell their salt cod and buy more salt. Topsham had its own salt refinery, located adjacent to Topsham Bridge. It was last sold as an operating business at an auction actually held in the Salutation in 1836 along with ‘2 acres, a Quay and 2 neat dwellings’.
As a talented chef, Tom not only knows his fish and shellfish, he can give advice on how to prepare and enjoy the bounty that we are so fortunate to have in variety and abundance here on our own doorstep. “The British market needs to expand its awarenewss for and appreciation of local fish. We have such amazing seafood and shellfish landed locally. We hope to educate people to enjoy not just the more familiar varieties, but much more, too,” says Tom. “Come in and see us and have a chat!”
Photos by Nick Hook Photography