Have you ever been to a family get together and tasted food that resemble more of cardboard that the "chicken" dish your cousin swore it was? Ha! Well, when it comes to taste buds there are two things that has been around for thousands of years, SALT and PEPPER.
Thats right, these two ingredients are a huge reason why things taste good or bad a lot of times. It all started back over 2300 years ago in China with a man named Yi Dun started boiling brine till finished product was SALT!
When you taste salt today there are a few ways its made: naturally digging it up from under ground where salt deposits are, and using the sun to evaporate water to leave salt in salt fields.
Pepper, originated in southern Asia from Kerala, India and was valued highly because of its medicinal qualities sought after for reduction of phlegm and increased fertility in males.
Although pepper was cultivated and marketed a couple thousand years before salt it was not made popular during the Renaissance time where French chefs started using pepper instead of traditional seasoning with salt. This caught on and spread fast cause salt and pepper make a glorious pair.
Using S&P Today
During culinary school I was preached to from day one how much flavor salt and pepper, "AKA," seasoning food made the dish. Yes, your food might be good, but if you add just a pinch of salt it is elevated to the heavens.
Try this, next time you cook vegetables, season the water till it tastes of sea water. Cook the vegetables like normal, and cook vegetables in the salted water. BOOM!
Or, crust a steak with crushed black pepper and sear to a wonderful medium rare.
Both of these are definitely modern techniques that are perfect examples how today we live to eat instead of eat to live from the past. Next time your food is missing "something" add a touch of salt and you would be surprised how much better your food turns out.
I personally like to eat salt by itself (I will do salt tastings, lol) at restaurants. If your a fan of salts, let me know what your favorite salt is and what food uses you use salt for?
I would suggest reading the below for more info and a great blog post by the history vault that made me think more of how people today might not like their food and how to fix it.
A History of English Food, Clarissa Dickson Wright (Cornerstone, 2011)
Taste: The Story of Britain through its Cooking, Kate Colquhoun (Bloomsbury, 2007)