Pass the Salt and Pepper, Please

Craig McCord

Craig McCord › Craig possesses 23 guitars and cannot play any of them. He likes fresh grilled sardines with a ...

salt-pepper
 

Salt and pepper. Most of us use them every day. They are the bedrock condiments that spell the difference between a dish tasting good or not.

And we take these two for granted. When was the last time you gave any thought (serious or otherwise) to salt and or pepper?

Hardly ever. Never?

That’s why Andrew Tarantola’s article entitled How Salt and Pepper Became the Yin and Yang of Condiments caught my attention. He has made a seemingly low-interest subject quite compelling. It’s a really interesting read.

For instance, did you know:

. . . until recently, salt and sugar were often used simultaneously. From Roman times through the Renaissance, chefs routinely served salted and sugared dishes at the same time. It wasn’t until the 17th century in France that salt and sugar were separated. It was royal cooks for Louis the XIV that began serving salted dishes throughout the meal to stimulate appetite and only serving sweet foods at the end to satiate the appetite—signifying an end to the meal.

I did not. I do now.

When was the last time you gave any thought (serious or otherwise) to salt and or pepper?

And this bit of pepper lore from Mr. Tarantola’s article:

Like many strong spices, pepper has historically been used as both a condiment and a medicine to treat a variety of illnesses from constipation, hernias, and heart disease to diarrhea, joint pain, and eye infections. However, not all peppers are created equal. During the Roman era, long pepper (piper longum) was the en vogue pepper species—not our familiar black pepper (piper nigrum).

I did not know that.

I learned a lot from How Salt and Pepper Became the Yin and Yang of Condiments. It reminded me what a crucial role these simple substances play in our cooking and eating.

Salt has come a long way since Roman times. Have you gotten into exotic salts? The Meadow has a great guide to artisan and gourmet salt that you will find helpful when you really want to explore the wider world of salt. It seems as though there’s a salt for everyone’s taste.

Pepper has its caché too. Frontier Natural Products Co-op seems to have a pretty good handle on the fine art of the peppercorn. Take a look at what these folks have curated. Impressive.

So the next time you use salt and pepper, remember How Salt and Pepper Became the Yin and Yang of Condiments.

Do you have a favorite type of salt or pepper?

Photo credit: Craig McCord