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How did Salt and Pepper become a Pair?

Updated on August 24, 2012
- How did Salt and Pepper become a Pair?, by Rosie2010 -
- How did Salt and Pepper become a Pair?, by Rosie2010 -

Salt and pepper are the most common cooking ingredients that can be found in almost all recipes in any cuisine. Some recipes may ask for a definite amount of these cooking ingredients while others may just say "salt and pepper to taste."

Salt and pepper can be found in almost all the kitchens around the world. A dinner table is not completely set if salt and pepper are not on the table. When we go to a restaurant, salt and pepper are already set on the table before we get seated. When we order takeouts, we will find salt and pepper in tiny packets added to our order free of charge. In fast food places, salt and pepper little packets are available at the condiments counter and you can take as many as you need or want.

During travel, salt and pepper shakers are available as tourist souvenirs in every city, in every port, in every country. Salt and pepper shakers have become a very popular gift, specially for newlyweds. In fact, we have received so many salt and pepper shakers as gifts we don't know where to put them.

From cooking ingredients, salt and pepper have come a long way. But have you ever wondered how salt and pepper became a pair?


Pepper before ripening, source Wikimedia Commons - How did salt and pepper become a pair?, by Rosie2010
Pepper before ripening, source Wikimedia Commons - How did salt and pepper become a pair?, by Rosie2010
Sea salt harvesting in Pak Thale, Phetchaburi, Thailand, source Wikimedia Commons - How did salt and pepper become a pair?, by Rosie2010
Sea salt harvesting in Pak Thale, Phetchaburi, Thailand, source Wikimedia Commons - How did salt and pepper become a pair?, by Rosie2010

Are salt and pepper spices?

Yes and No. Pepper is definitely a spice, but salt isn't. Salt may be the most popular seasoning in the world, but it is not a spice.

According to the chefs' bible "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen" by Harold McGree, the most authoritative book in food and cooking, spices are "bits of dry seed, bark and root." Therefore, a spice is organic.

Black pepper is the small dried fruits and seeds of a tropical vine. So, pepper is definitely a spice.

What about salt? Salt is a mineral. In fact, salt is the only rock we eat. Salt is one of the oldest, if not the oldest, food seasonings. Before artificial refrigeration was invented, salt has been the best-known food preservative, especially for meat, for many thousands of years. Salt is a remarkable ingredient that has had a tremendous impact on human history. But, salt is not a spice.

Salt crystals and a peppercorn, source Wikimedia Commons - How did salt and pepper become a pair?, by Rosie2010
Salt crystals and a peppercorn, source Wikimedia Commons - How did salt and pepper become a pair?, by Rosie2010
And Salt and Pepper lived happily ever after - Salt and Pepper Shaker - How did salt and pepper become a pair?, by Rosie2010
And Salt and Pepper lived happily ever after - Salt and Pepper Shaker - How did salt and pepper become a pair?, by Rosie2010

So, how did salt and pepper become a pair?

Salt and pepper have been heavily used as cooking ingredients for hundreds of years, but so were several other spices. So, what made people focus on salt and pepper?

Well, it seems that the story began with salt. Salt had gained popularity as a condiment in Ancient Rome. During the Renaissance period, Italians had been known to serve salted dishes with sugared dishes. By the 17th century, it seemed that the French divided the salt from the sweet. Salted foods were eaten throughout the meal, because salt stimulate the appetite. Sweet dishes were served at the end, as they satiate the appetite and stop our desire to eat.

It is said that it was in France that salt met its inevitable spicy partner, the pepper. In 17th-century Classic French cuisine, pepper and parsley were considered superior to the various other spices imported from the Middle East. The French viewed all spices as vulgar ingredients masking the true flavor of a dish. Pepper was the only spice acceptable. In fact, pepper had attained the same status as fine herbs, which were thought to be more wholesome and exquisite. The French, therefore, are responsible for bringing the importance of pepper equal to that of salt.

And that's how the salt and pepper pair came to be.

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  • Writer Fox profile image

    Writer Fox 4 years ago from the wadi near the little river

    Salt used the be used as money in the ancient world. I think that the desire for black pepper came much later.

  • Rosie2010 profile image
    Author

    Rosie Rose 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Hiya SilentReed, thanks for dropping by. I'm glad you enjoyed reading my salt and pepper history. Thanks for the wish on the hub challenge.. there's reason they call it a challenge. lol It's so stressful and indeed very challenging to think of a topic to write about. lol Cheers!

    Have a nice day,

    Rosie

  • SilentReed profile image

    SilentReed 6 years ago from Philippines

    Even though I use these ingredients in cooking,I have never been aware of their being an odd couple till this read.Thank you for sharing such a delightful history about S & P. Good luck on your hub challenge

  • Rosie2010 profile image
    Author

    Rosie Rose 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Hiya my darling handsome cowboy, so nice to see you in my salt and pepper hub. No, definitely not about hair. I follow the weekly Hubmob topic and this week, I've chosen to write about cooking ingredients. I've been reading my emails but just thinking (yes I, too, think lol) what to write. Just very busy this month as I've joined the April hub challenge and April writing contest plus am writing a series on American Idol lol. hugsssss

    Have a nice day,

    Rosie

  • Gets profile image

    Gets 6 years ago

    I love pepper....even that black cracklin' stuff you put in stuff like cream gravy for...biscuts and gravy. lol. But I really thought from the topic you were gonna talk about my hair. :D lol Not reading your email again??

  • Rosie2010 profile image
    Author

    Rosie Rose 6 years ago from Toronto, Canada

    Hiya twobmad, thanks for dropping by. So salt is important to your Dad and brother.. what about you? I try not to use a lot of salt but almost everything we eat contain salt.. even ice-cream.. and I will die without ice-cream. lol Thanks so much for the vote up. Cheers!

    Have a nice day,

    Rosie

  • twobmad profile image

    twobmad 6 years ago from Myanmar(Burma)

    Voted up! Nice hub. I think my brother and Dad will die without salt.. I mean i'd like to say how salt is important to them.. lol..