When we talk about condiments, we often think of salt, pepper, mayonnaise and mustard, but it's not only that.
To be more precise, a condiment is a substance (aromatic) intended to enhance the flavour of a food product or a dish. It is most often of vegetable origin but it can also be of animal or mineral origin.
The condiment can be inserted during the culinary preparation or added afterwards before consumption.
Condiments can be divided into different groups or classes of products according to their characteristics. However, not everyone has the same opinion. There are many different views on the classification of the many existing condiments. Should they be classified by origin (vegetable, animal, mineral), by their properties (spices, herbs or aromatic plants), by the presence or not of chlorophyll... the possibilities are numerous.
Condiments of vegetable origin
As indicated in the title these condiments are those coming from plants. They can be separated into 2 categories.
Aromatic plants: these are the parts of plants containing chlorophyll. Aromatic plants can be used fresh or dried. Among the best known of them are thyme, parsley, chives, tarragon, basil, rosemary, coriander and mint. Herbal blends are very popular for salads and meats.
Spices: They come from parts of plants that do not contain or no longer contain chlorophyll (stem, flowers, bark, roots, seeds). This category includes pepper, cinnamon, saffron, cumin, clove and turmeric.
Vegetables: This category does not have a precise name, but it is well known for the elements that make it up. Pickles, capers, onions, garlic and shallots of all kinds are good ways to give more taste to your meal. Sometimes, real vegetables such as carrots, fennel or leeks also play this role of taste enhancer.
Condiments of animal origin
Condiments of this origin are less common than vegetables. Nevertheless, they can be found in the form of meat broth, meat juices after cooking and even some sauces.
Condiments of mineral origin
The best known and most used of these condiments is of course salt It can be obtained in salt mines or collected after the dewatering of salt water. It is composed of many trace elements that are important for our organism. However, we must be careful not to consume too much of it, as an excess can have harmful effects on our health.
The benefits of condiments
The main advantage of condiments is their gustatory power to spice up and brighten up our dishes. But some of them are not only there for their taste. Indeed, some condiments have health and body benefits by being a source of minerals and vitamins. This is the case with certain spices and aromatic herbs, for example.
Among the benefits that can be found in them are :
Treatment of digestive disorders: cinnamon, cumin, saffron and nutmeg
Soothing and calming: cinnamon, clove, vanilla, ginger, saffron.
Disinfectant: pepper and clove
Aphrodisiac: pepper and ginger
Fat burner: ginger
Condiments to have in your kitchen
The complete list of existing condiments is extremely long. The most commonly used substances vary from country to country depending on food and culture. For example, the indigenous populations are very fond of very spicy food which is not suitable for us. The consumption of certain condiments such as peppers is even very unpleasant for unaccustomed stomachs.
In most European countries, however, the most commonly used condiments are generally the same. Here is a list of condiments that you should always have at home to add taste to your cooking.