A condiment is a preparation that is added to food, typically after cooking, to impart a specific flavor, to enhance the flavor, or to complement the dish. A table condiment or table sauce is more specifically a condiment that is served separately from the food and is added to taste by the diner.
Condiments are sometimes added prior to serving, for example, in a sandwich made with ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise. Some condiments are used during cooking to add flavor or texture: barbecue sauce, compound butter, teriyaki sauce, soy sauce, Marmite and sour cream are examples.
The exact definition of a condiment varies. Some definitions encompass spices and herbs, including salt and pepper, using the term interchangeably with seasoning. Others restrict the definition to include only "prepared food compound[s], containing one or more spices", which are added to food after the cooking process, such as mustard, ketchup or mint sauce.
The term condiment comes from the Latin condimentum, meaning "spice, seasoning, sauce" and from the Latin condire, meaning "preserve, pickle, season". The term originally described pickled or preserved foods, but its meaning has changed over time.
Condiments were known in Ancient Rome, India, Greece and China. There is a myth that before food preservation techniques were widespread, pungent spices and condiments were used to make the food more palatable, but this claim is not supported by any evidence or historical record. The Romans made the condiments garum and liquamen by crushing the innards of various fish and then fermenting them in salt, resulting in a liquid containing glutamic acid, suitable for enhancing the flavor of food. The popularity of these sauces led to a flourishing condiment industry. Apicius, a cookbook based on fourth and fifth century cuisine, contains a section based solely on condiments.
List of condiments
The examples and perspective in this section may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (March 2022)
In the United States, the market for condiments was US$5.6 billion in 2010 and is estimated to grow to US$7 billion by 2015. The condiment market is the second largest in specialty foods behind that of cheese.
Packets of duck sauce
- Condiments by country (category)
- Garnish – Decoration or embellishment to a prepared food dish or drink
- List of fish sauces
- List of foods
- List of mustard brands
- Non-brewed condiment – Malt vinegar substitute
- Seasoning – Process of supplementing food via herbs, salts, or spices
- Herb – Plant used for food, medicine or perfume
- Spice – Food flavoring
- Relish – Cooked, pickled, or chopped vegetable or fruit used as a condiment
- Pickling – Procedure of preserving food in brine or vinegar
- Ingredient – Part of a mixture
- Merriam-Webster: Definition of condiment
- Collins: Definition Condiment
- Farrell 1990, p. 291
- Nealon 2010
- Smith 2007, pp. 144–146
- Farrell 1990, p. 297
- Freedman, Paul (2008). Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination. Yale University Press. pp. 3–4. ISBN 978-0-300-21131-3.
- Sax, David (7 October 2010). "Spreading the Love". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
- "Collins: Definition Condiment". Collins Dictionary. n.d. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
- Farrell, K. T. (1990). Spices, Condiments and Seasonings (2nd ed.). MA, USA: Aspen Publishers. ISBN 9780834213371.
- "Merriam-Webster: Definition of condiment". Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 23 October 2011.
- Nealon, Tom (7 September 2010). "De Condimentis". HiLobrow. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- Smith, Andrew F. (1 May 2007). The Oxford companion to American food and drink. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-530796-2. Retrieved 15 March 2012.