Until, ooh, about thirty seconds ago, I would have denied all knowledge of drysalters. No, I would have said, I have never met, seen, or had dealings with a drysalter of any kind.
But the truth was that I didn't know if a drysalter was a person, or one of those weird things painted in stripes that you see at the seaside and which I have always assumed were something to do with the restraining of large vessels.
But splendidly nautical though drysalter sounds, a drysalter is nothing particularly to do with the seaside. He neither cures herring nor tends to boats in dry dock.
In fact, wherever you live, there is a drysalter near you. You depend on him for your chips, whether of the US or British variety; you depend on him for your baked beans and your pickled onions; and your football scarf would be a thing of pathetic pale timidity without him.
So who are they?
A drysalter is a dealer in the chemicals used in the arts, drugs, dyestuffs and gums; in dried, salted, pickled and tinned foods; and in edible oils.
And if I had known earlier that such a profession existed, I might have become one myself, just for the glory of bearing its name.
My sort of chips.
Spot the Frippet: drysalter. This word seems first to have been used in the early 1700s. The word salt comes from the Old English sealt and goes all the way back to the Greek hals.