Eupedia Forums
Site NavigationEupedia Top > Eupedia Forum & Japan Forum
Results 1 to 15 of 15

Thread: How Did Salt And Pepper Become The Soulmates Of Western Cuisine?

  1. #1
    Advisor Jovialis's Avatar
    Join Date
    04-05-17
    Posts
    5,472

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    (R1b-F1794) R-M269
    MtDNA haplogroup
    H6a1b

    Ethnic group
    Italian
    Country: United States



    1 members found this post helpful.

    How Did Salt And Pepper Become The Soulmates Of Western Cuisine?

    Salt and pepper shakers are so omnipresent on tabletops that adding a dash of the white or black stuff (or both!) is almost a dining rite. The seasonings pair well with just about everything and they go together like — well, salt and pepper.

    But these two culinary staples have not always occupied such a place of prominence. "It's a weird accident of history," says Ken Albala, a professor of history and founder of the Food Studies Program at the University of the Pacific. In Europe during the Late Middle Ages, "Pepper was never on the table, nor was any other spice, for that matter. Usually spices would be added in the kitchen with a very heavy hand until the 17th century."

    Salt was on the table, but not in a shaker. Instead, salt was often presented in saltcellars, or in Italian courtly settings, at the end of a knife offered by a trinciante, or meat carver. According to Albala, the trinciante would carve the meat in the air, allowing each slice to fall delicately to the person being served. The trinciante would then dip the end of the knife in salt and scrape it onto the diner's plate. (If this sounds complicated, it was; there were entire books dedicated to the art of carving, and noblemen were often the carvers.)

    In fact, salt has occupied a place of culinary dominance across cultures. "We like the taste of salt innately because salt is a signal of protein in nature," says Rachel Herz, an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University and author of Why You Eat What You Eat. What's more, humans need salt to regulate fluid balance and help nerves and muscles function. Salt also helped preserve food before refrigeration. And, Herz says, studies have shown that the more salt people eat, the more they crave it.

    So salt had a foothold in cooking, and pepper was one of many spices used in heavily seasoned dishes. But after the Middle Ages, the use of most spices decreased. The decline likely had multiple causes. As spices got more affordable, they grew less associated with wealth and featured less in European courtly cooking. At the same time, the view that spices were necessary for specific healthful properties declined.

    According to Albala, increasingly influential French haute cuisine relegated most spices to dessert, but salty and spicy flavors were not incorporated into the final course. Because they did not fit in dessert, salt and pepper remained flavors in savory dishes. Salt shakers, Albala surmises, probably became common in the early 20th century, when producers figured out how to keep salt from clumping.

    Tabletop seasonings may do more than flavor food, according to Krishnendu Ray, an associate professor of food studies at New York University. Unlike today — when many people have personalized diets for nutritional, ethical or preferential reasons — "in most traditional cuisines, individual exceptions were rare. Most people ate what people around them ate. Seasonings allowed room for idiosyncrasies and personal preferences."

    Seasonings can also serve as bridges between different types of cuisine. Ray, for example, grew up in a small town in Odisha, a state in eastern India. On special occasions, his family would go to one of two Chinese restaurants, and both featured a tabletop condiment of green chiles in vinegar.


    "It's very Indian to have green chiles," says Ray. "But vinegar isn't that common in Indian food, other than being used in some marinades." The sauce was so central to his conception of Chinese food, that he was "shocked" when he came to the West and learned the condiment was not a staple in Chinese food everywhere. In retrospect, he views the condiment as building a bridge between Indian and Chinese cuisines.


    As Ray's story demonstrates, salt and pepper may rule supreme among seasonings in European dishes, but many culinary traditions have produced plenty of tabletop alternatives. Ray asked for examples on the Association for the Study of Food and Society's Facebook page and received 36 responses within two hours. Among the examples: fish sauce and crushed red peppers in Thailand and Laos; lime, salsa, and chopped onion and cilantro in Mexico; and chile-based awaze paste in Ethiopia.

    Today's chefs could even incorporate some tips from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, according to Albala, who has cooked a number of recipes from the past. Many old recipes do not say exactly how much seasoning to add; one 16th century French cookbook simply advises "a great deal of sugar." The recipes can probably take up to a tablespoon of seasoning.

    "Some people assume they couldn't have put so much seasoning on, because it wouldn't taste good. I say nonsense!" Albala declares. "Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top of chicken or pasta, and it is so good."

    https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt...estern-cuisine

  2. #2
    Satyavrata Maciamo's Avatar
    Join Date
    17-07-02
    Location
    Lothier
    Posts
    9,497


    Ethnic group
    Italo-celto-germanic
    Country: Belgium - Brussels



    1 members found this post helpful.
    Interesting article. I have noticed too that other condiments tend to replace salt and pepper outside Western countries. In Japan, every table, be it in people's homes or in restaurants, comes with a bottle of soy sauce. Soy sauce is also omnipresent in China. In Thailand, there is typically a set of 4 metal containers with a spicy-hot sauce, fish sauce, a sour sauce (like vinegar) and sugar. In India, condiments are served as side dishes, but usually include chutney and raita. Even in Italy, it is customary to find a bottle of olive oil on many tables.
    My book selection---Follow me on Facebook and Twitter --- My profile on Academia.edu and on ResearchGate ----Check Wa-pedia's Japan Guide
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "What is the use of living, if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone?", Winston Churchill.

  3. #3
    Advisor Jovialis's Avatar
    Join Date
    04-05-17
    Posts
    5,472

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    (R1b-F1794) R-M269
    MtDNA haplogroup
    H6a1b

    Ethnic group
    Italian
    Country: United States



    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    Interesting article. I have noticed too that other condiments tend to replace salt and pepper outside Western countries. In Japan, every table, be it in people's homes or in restaurants, comes with a bottle of soy sauce. Soy sauce is also omnipresent in China. In Thailand, there is typically a set of 4 metal containers with a spicy-hot sauce, fish sauce, a sour sauce (like vinegar) and sugar. In India, condiments are served as side dishes, but usually include chutney and raita. Even in Italy, it is customary to find a bottle of olive oil on many tables.
    Olive oil is a must have for me, when it comes to salads, and bread.

  4. #4
    Princess davef's Avatar
    Join Date
    19-06-16
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    2,204


    Ethnic group
    Italian,Irish,Jewish
    Country: USA - New York



    Not a fan of pepper but if there's a grated parmasean cheese shaker, you better grab it before I do!! I would put so much on a pizza or pasta dish it'll look as if it was hit by a mini snow storm lol!

    The ketchup bottle is also at risk; if I'm having an omelette and hash browns or a cheeseburger with fries i would paint my dish red :)

    I used to be grossed out by ketchup on scrambled eggs but after having it for the first time I became an instant fan! It's the best thing ever
    mmmmmmmmm dooouuughhhnuuuutz

  5. #5
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    18-06-17
    Posts
    26


    Country: Poland



    I can't imagine proper eggs without salt and pepper, unless of course with milk and flour.

  6. #6
    Princess davef's Avatar
    Join Date
    19-06-16
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    2,204


    Ethnic group
    Italian,Irish,Jewish
    Country: USA - New York



    If you make them into an omelette with provolone it's going to stink
    worse than death but it's great to eat

  7. #7
    Regular Member Salento's Avatar
    Join Date
    30-05-17
    Posts
    4,868

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    T1a2 - SK1480
    MtDNA haplogroup
    H12a

    Ethnic group
    Italian
    Country: United States



    Historically Salt and Pepper are food Preservers. Also Pepper will mask some of the Smell/Taste of rotten food.
    🕷️

  8. #8
    Princess davef's Avatar
    Join Date
    19-06-16
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    2,204


    Ethnic group
    Italian,Irish,Jewish
    Country: USA - New York



    I have no palette for pepper from the shaker, that stuff is too bitter

  9. #9
    Advisor Angela's Avatar
    Join Date
    02-01-11
    Posts
    19,228


    Ethnic group
    Italian
    Country: USA - New York



    The article doesn't mention it, but salt is also a general flavor enhancer, which is why chefs like to use it. This is what a salt cellar looked like, btw.
    Sometimes they were lidded, sometimes not, and the richer you were, the more ornate the salt cellar. These are both Italian.


    Cellini created this one...it's priceless:


    I always put salt and pepper on the table, although I'm cooking the food so I salt and pepper to my taste. It's for other people. I often add salt when I eat out because restaurants are cutting back on it, but rarely pepper, because I really don't like a lot of it.

    Northern Italian and Tuscan cooking still uses certain spices from the east in its cooking, no doubt a holdover from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

    Noce Moscata or nutmeg is often an ingredient in our pasta stuffings, like tortellini, agnolini, ravioli etc., although don't expect it in American made food.


    My father's mother added it to potato puree and when cooking zucca.



    It's also an ingredient at times, along with cinnamon and cloves, in meat stews or sauces like those made from cinghiale or wild boar.


    Then of course there's saffron, expensive as it still is, in things like risotto alla milanese. Yum.


    Non si fa il proprio dovere perchè qualcuno ci dica grazie, lo si fa per principio, per se stessi, per la propria dignità. Oriana Fallaci

  10. #10
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    18-08-15
    Posts
    1,499

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    R-L2
    MtDNA haplogroup
    J1c5a

    Ethnic group
    Swiss
    Country: Switzerland



    I remember a theory that makes Salt the primordial addiction of men, and all creatures because salt is one of the primordial chemical thing that has give birth to life milliards of year ago. There is salt in every living creature on earth. One scientific even argue that Salt was more addictive than heroin or big drugs like this, but dont know how is it really relevent.

  11. #11
    Regular Member ΠΑΝΑΞ's Avatar
    Join Date
    10-03-14
    Posts
    298


    Country: Greece



    I believe salt is the first and I suppose from late paleolilithic times to mesolithic must had a use...
    The etymology of salary isn;t hold on about it's "value" at the ages of the first seafarers; -maybe?
    there was time that salt must be the most valuable things.

    @halfalp thanks, Once I wrote a poem to explain to a lady my love for an other lady and no mister had to find out what we are talking about...
    Salty things... Lol.

    (seriously serious)
    The quadrocolumn of the greek table seasoning elements is: salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar.
    My father use to drink his milk salted, never used sugar. His close 75, perfect shape, low pressure, with heavy and everyday exercise, with non proccessed food meals.

  12. #12
    Princess davef's Avatar
    Join Date
    19-06-16
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    2,204


    Ethnic group
    Italian,Irish,Jewish
    Country: USA - New York



    Strangely, I have a strong addiction to rice and pasta but I have a nonexistent sweet tooth. My addiction to rice and pasta is strong enough that I would order a carton of rice from a local Chinese restaurant and have it for dessert.

  13. #13
    Princess davef's Avatar
    Join Date
    19-06-16
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    2,204


    Ethnic group
    Italian,Irish,Jewish
    Country: USA - New York



    Still don't understand why people like pepper, that stuff is mad nasty lolz

  14. #14
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    18-08-15
    Posts
    1,499

    Y-DNA haplogroup
    R-L2
    MtDNA haplogroup
    J1c5a

    Ethnic group
    Swiss
    Country: Switzerland



    Its the way to use it, you should just put at the end of cooking, never before or in the cook because it become bitter. When its freshly ground its perfect. Or you just dont like it.

  15. #15
    Princess davef's Avatar
    Join Date
    19-06-16
    Location
    New York
    Posts
    2,204


    Ethnic group
    Italian,Irish,Jewish
    Country: USA - New York



    Quote Originally Posted by halfalp View Post
    Its the way to use it, you should just put at the end of cooking, never before or in the cook because it become bitter. When its freshly ground its perfect. Or you just dont like it.
    I see your point, it's how it's used. I usually don't sprinkle it on a meal that's already prepared, unless it's the crushed pepper that's meant for pizza slices (as much as I love the taste of the crushed pepper, my tongue lacks an outer membrane so spicy foods are more painful, sadly for me)

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •