Except the British. They would stubbornly cling to boring, mediocre food for centuries more. :-))
P.S. A really amusing passage from Macaulay just came to mind. As I recall he went on for a page or two about how a really civilized people ate bread, and only dull half savages like the Irish would eat potatoes. No need to ask what he might think of Americans eating mashed potatoes and gravy with our turkey dinners. And turkey? Truly civilized men eat roast beef . . .
As you said, salt was the number one seasoning or condiment, and important also for food preservation, a two birds one stone thing.
Pepper was popular in the Roman Empire, but the trade with India was lost for some time after the muzzies took over the Mideast.
Onions and garlic, and chives, were cultivated back into prehistoric times, apparently. Capers are wild and cultivated throughout Eurasia. Hmm, the wiki-wacky page on onions sez 5000 BC and found alongside dates and figs (remains thereof of course).
Medieval, preColumbian Europeans enjoyed other things that have fallen out of use, such as medlars, and there were other sweet fruits that were used fresh or dried, stuff like mulberries. They ate a wider variety of greens, and some of those have quite a sharp flavor (first thing I’m thinking of is wintercress, which is probably coming up out there, now that we’re about 75 percent sure winter really has gone at last). And unlike us, they ate whatever was available, giving them a theoretically healthier diet.
I’ve heard it said that, the hotter the climate, the hotter the spice, because it has to cover the taste and smell of rotting meat, but I don’t believe that for a second — the Romans had liquamen or garum, which is fermented fish sauce, and while someone must have gotten a bad batch here and there, it wasn’t an epidemic of death — but rotten meat (particularly chicken when it turns) would be, uh, serious.
Heaven Is Where:
The French are the chefs
The Italians are the lovers
The British are the police
The Germans are the mechanics
And the Swiss make everything run on time
Hell is Where:
The British are the chefs
The Swiss are the lovers
The French are the mechanics
The Italians make everything run on time
And the Germans are the police
better version, more like I remember:
Heaven is where the police are British, the lovers French, the mechanics German, the chefs Italian, and it is all organized by the Swiss.
Hell is where the police are German, the lovers Swiss, the mechanics French, the chefs British, and it is all organized by the Italians.