We use salt and pepper every day to season our foods. As you spice up that bland piece of chicken on your fifth diet of the year, have you ever wondered how the black and white pairing came to be?
Popular YouTube Channel It’s Okay To Be Smart took a look at the history behind the two iconic seasonings.
Salt, as we all know, is an essential chemical compound to human diets. We need to consume a daily 6 grams to maintain blood pressure and other functions in our bodies. Early hunters and gatherers met this requirement with their animal diets. Raw blood and all.
As humans incorporated more plant-based foods into their diets, people began to discover different ways to harvest salt. Salt was commonly used to preserve food as well as accentuate other flavors like bitters, sweets, and umami.
So why do we use pepper, as opposed to hundreds of other spices that salt could be paired with?
Black pepper is from a flowering vine that originates from Southeast Asia called Piper nigrum.
Peppercorns became a very common ingredient in Indian cuisine for at least two millennia. Eventually, pepper was introduced to other countries, becoming a main commodity in the spice trade.
History believes that the popularity of black pepper came from King Louis XIV. The picky monarch demanded that his meals were to be “lightly seasoned,” only throwing salt and pepper on his food. The French cuisine that was developed in that period of time became the basis of much of what we eat today in the Western world.
So there you have it.
Imagine if King Louis preferred cinnamon instead? Food history could have drastically changed with the most minute of details.