The stories are about salt, and most follow a very similar format, despite "originating" in several different countries, from England to Pakistan. It isn't surprising, naturally, that stories such as these, meant to be spread verbally, should appear in so many places. One big example, though not really salt-related, is the flood myth in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is virtually identical to the story of Noah's Ark, right down to the dove carrying the olive branch. The oldest-known written version of the Epic of Gilgamesh is approximately 2000 years older than the Book of Genesis. Probably the Epic of Gilgamesh had been a story long before somebody took the time to chisel it into a rock.
But back to the salt stories. The common formula of this particular salt tale is this:
- A king has three (or more) daughters.
- He wants to find out which daughter loves him the most (occasionally for the sake of the lordship).
- The first daughters say that they love him as much as some sweet/vital/expensive thing.
- The third (or youngest) daughter says that she loves him as much as salt.
- The king is furious.
- The king banishes/imprisons her. (A**hole.)
The king becomes very upset that the food has no salt, and then the daughter's like, "Wham! It's me, jackass!"
Then the king admits his folly and that truly her compliment was best of all.
One of the stories even ends, "Salt is holy." Which I've been saying all along, of course.