As a follow up to the post on What is in your spice rack? I went through the condiments that are stored in the pantry, kitchen cabinet and refrigerator. Once again, after taking stock of what had been accumulated, I could only just shake my head. The picture to the left is only a small sample of the total condiments that call my kitchen home.
What is a condiment?
Rogets Thesaurus states that a condiment is a substance that imparts taste: flavor, seasoning and spice.
If a condiment is a substance that imparts seasoning and spice, which is contained in all of those used and some rarely used packages in my spice cabinet, then what are all of those bottles that are pictured in this post? The internet provides huge selection of definitions and expanded explanations. After much research, the following link provides a detailed but quick read of what are condiments: Gale Encyclopedia of Food & Culture: Condiment.
The term “condiment” originally meant seasoned, pickled or preserved foods in Latin. Today, the word is broadly applied to a variety of foods, including spices, herbs, sauces, seasonings, flavorings, colorings, and even beverages. Okay, now we are getting closer to identifying of those bottles that are in my kitchen. The link goes on to say that there are five basic, but nonexclusive categories; Salt, Sweetener, Pickle, Spicy / Hot and Compound.
Now we are getting somewhere in understanding what is a condiment. Based upon these five broad categories, how does my collection of condiments get categorized?
Bouillon Cubes (Beef), Bouillon Cubes (Chicken), Bouillon Cubes (Tomato with Chicken), Bouillon Cubes (Vegetable), Bouillon Paste (Mushroom)
Eel Sauce, Honey, Marmalade (homemade), Molasses, Peanut Butter (Creamy), Preserves (Apricot), Preserves (Strawberry), Syrup (Breakfast)
Lemon Juice, Vinegar (Balsamic – 3 different bottles), Vinegar (Red), Vinegar (Rice), Vinegar (White)
Spicy / Hot:
Horseradish (ground), Hot Sauce (Tapatio), Hot Sauce (Tabasco), Mustard (Chinese Hot), Mustard (Deli Brown), Mustard (Honey), Mustard (Horseradish), Sambal Oleok, Wasabi Sauce,
Ketchup, Liquid Smoke, Marmite, Mayonnaise (Dijon), Mayonnaise (Helmann’s), Mayonnaise (Sandwich Shop), Oyster Sauce, Soy Sauce, Thousand Island Dressing, Worcestershire Sauce, Vanilla Extract
Since I am unclear as to where to place the oils that I use, I am creating a sixth condiment category:
Oil (Extra Virgin Olive – 2 different bottle), Oil (Sesame), Oil (Vegetable)
Many of these condiments could be categorized in one or more of the six categories, but I tried to place them where I thought they would make sense. There is a seventh category that could be used known as Umami (uniquely savory) that will be addressed in a future post.
There were three things that stood out while I was doing an inventory of my condiments. The first was that I have way too many different types of mayonnaise. How did that many types of mayonnaise end up in the refrigerator? The same could be said for the number of mustard that are in the refrigerator. The one that really has me shake my head was the Balsamic Vinegar. Three bottles of something that I particularly do not enjoy. I must have gotten two of those bottles as “regifts” from someone pawning off their own unwanted condiments.
The Thousand Island Dressing also stands out as being the only salad dressing in the refrigerator. It is not used for salads, but when I make Reuben Sandwiches at home.
So what are the condiments that I use most often?
Mayonnaise (Hellmann’s), Mustard (Deli Brown), Sambal Oleok, Marmite, Oyster Sauce, Soy Sauce, Liquid Smoke, Worcestershire Sauce, Bouillon Paste (Mushroom) and Olive Oil.
Interestingly enough, for someone who has a definite sweet tooth, none of the Sweet Condiments are used on a regular basis for cooking.
Condiments like seasoning herbs and spices are meant to transform and elevate the flavor, texture and complexity of the food that we eat. Whether is is on a sandwich, to marinate meat or used in a soup it is about enhancing the experience of eating.