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In this fun video from It’s Okay to be Smart, we learn about the history of salt and pepper and how these two seasonings together became the cornerstones of modern cooking.
Salt, or sodium chloride, described dramatically here as the combination of “a poisonous gas and explosive metal” (okay, that is quite exciting), is, as we know, vital for daily bodily function, but, as the video states, early man got all its necessary salt (about six grams a day is recommended) from an animal diet.
But, as agriculture developed, salt became a tradeable product, a currency, and the basis for many ancient economies, informing language, and starting wars and revolutions. Of course, salt was used to preserve food pre-refrigeration too. Pepper also became a similar commodity in the spice trade, where it was used to mask the flavour of rotting meat on long sea journeys between India and the Orient, and Europe.
It’s Louis XIV of France who was said to have brought the two together (only the rich could afford pepper), preferring as he did his food to be lightly seasoned with just salt and pepper, forming the basis for modern cooking.
But wait, there’s a twist. Our friendly video host, Dr Joe Hanson, is actually dead against pepper – he hates the stuff. Don’t listen to him. Salt and pepper is a match made in gastronomic heaven.
Watch the fascinating video below to learn more about the history of salt and pepper.