My daughter recently got married. As the mother-of-the-bride, I cannot help but be elated that she had found the perfect match. The wedding ceremony was beautiful, and the reception was a small dinner at my parent’s house under a tent we rented.
Maybe it was all the romance in the air, or maybe it was lack of sleep from being up cooking all evening the night before the wedding, but I started to think about relationships, how they started and what made them last. Then the oddest thing popped into my mind – the Salt & Pepper shakers on the table. Now that is a relationship that has stood the test of time. How did they meet? Why are they so compatible and why does everyone have them as permanent guests in their home? I mean, they are invited everywhere – weddings, picnics, graduation parties, birthday parties, even funerals!
Being naturally curious, and after a good night’s sleep after the wedding reception, I did what anyone would do in my situation, I Googled it.
Turns out we have none other than King Louis XIV of France for setting up this duo – or at least his tummy. Seems that Louis had a delicate stomach that could not handle spice, so he spiced his food with – you guessed it – salt and pepper… and the occasional parsley, but that is another story. Back in the 17th century when King Louis would throw any kind of party, event or gathering, he would have a beautiful bowl on a pedestal filled with salt to serve only to his most important VIP guests. The less important guests would still get salt, but just from a simple wooden tray. Considering that salt was so expensive back then that you had to be – well, a king – to afford it, I guess being a lesser guest was not so bad.
So, what about pepper? When they met was it love at first site? One of those meet-cutes where they bump into each other and giggle ‘You got your salt in my pepper, no you got your pepper in my salt, mmm tastes great!’ – and no, I did not steal that line from an old commercial, well, maybe I did, but that was a funny commercial. I digress. Turns out pepper was not Mr. Popular in the food circuit right away. In several periods in history, it was avoided because people associated it with melancholy. But once again, we must thank the French for making pepper hip again when its first celebrity chef encouraged people to spice foods with pepper. No, it was not Gordon Ramsay, he is neither French nor that old, but I like to picture Gordon being the one to bring back pepper… woops, I lost my train of thought for a minute there. Back to the love story of Salt and Pepper. Pepper was also awfully expensive when King Louis added it to the table, and it was placed on the party table in a mortar and pestle so guest could smush the peppercorns themselves. Turns out that his party guests also loved the pairing and the two officially became a duo.
Thankfully, way back in 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue, he also started trading spices so everyday folk and not just kings could afford salt and pepper.
That is why we now enjoy salt and pepper at every meal. Whether it is packaged in disposable shakers at your best friends Packer Party, or in gorgeous cut crystal at your friend high end fundraiser – salt and pepper: a love story and truly the greatest love story ever told.