Why do we season foods with salt and pepper?
To season: To render palatable, or to give a higher relish to, by the addition or mixture of another substance more pungent or pleasant; as, to season meat with salt.
Here is a personally observed fact: If I cook food without adding any salt or pepper to it, I find that even when I am quite hungry, the meal tastes to me so bland and flavorless that I will eat only a small portion before losing interest in it. I will usually then begin to think about some other more tasty food to eat instead (yes, even though I am no longer hungry) -- preferably something salty, peppery, spicy, or sweet.
So, why do we season foods with salt and pepper? That is a question I've been asking myself since the time a few years ago when my stomach began to give me terrible pains when I would overeat or eat spicy foods. For some reason I never did any research on the question.
Recently I Googled . . . "why season food with salt and pepper?" Below (with its misspellings and grammatical errors left intact) is one of the answers that appeared on Answers.com:
'salt adds much needed minerials and flvor and acts as a phreservative.pepper adds flavor and wards off insects and may provide a small amount of other nutrission..all cultures that i ever studyed about includeing american indians have used salt for thousands of years. and so have the chineese afterall what is rice without salt?yuck.i think black and white pepper may have oridgenated in india. spices have been traded for thousands of years.salt made sadom and gamorah welthey beyond belief and the peaple became haughty and rude this is the real reason god distroyes theese citys.so we know it goes atleast that far back.'
And here is the paragraph deemed Answer.com's Best answer:
We started using salt to preserve meat. It's the only rock that humans consume. It's necessary for normal bodily function. Some people crave it due to electrolyte imbalances. The ancient Egyptians used it as far back as 6000 BC. Pepper is the from the same time period. No one knows specifically why they started using it but the belief is lack of other resources at the time. They didn't know what was poisonous or not until they tried it. I guess once they figured out it was safe and tasted good, they stuck with it.
Neither of those replies actually answers my original question. Not to my satisfaction, anyway. Further research reveals that the most common reason given for seasoning with salt is something similar to: Any chef or confident cook will tell you that knowing how to season with salt is as crucial as any other technique in successful preparation of delicious foods. You may have already mastered many cooking techniques, but if your food is not seasoned properly with salt, it won’t matter -- the flavors will be bland and unappealing.
So why cook without salt? Well... one reason might be that eating bland, flavorless foods might cause an overweight person to lose weight.
But does that overweight person have the perseverance to eat 'only' those foods... for a sufficient length of time?
That is the question.