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Watch: How Black Pepper Became Salt's Perfect Partner

France gets the credit, of course

Salt and pepper make for an essential duo when it comes to flavoring food. Salt's importance is understandable. Sodium chloride is a staple of human life, and it's been harvested and traded as a seasoning since 6000 BC. But how did black pepper become salt's go-to sidekick? This video explains.

In the middle ages, a variety of spices were used in cooking for the wealthy, but apparently Louis XIV of France didn't care for too many strong flavors. Instead, he asked for his food to be "lightly seasoned, preferring only salt and pepper," according to the video's narrator. In the 17th and early 18th centuries, the king's limited palate influenced French food, which in turn became the foundation of Western cuisine. Thus, salt and pepper instead of, say, salt and coriander.

The next time you're eating salt-and-pepper chips, salt-and-pepper shrimp, or any other salt-and-pepper food item, be sure to thank the Sun King.