Condiments are typically looked at as specific kinds of food enhancers that are made out of natural ingredients in order to impart robustness to a particular dish or bring out a specific flavour to the food. Some cultures use condiments to complement the food, and are viewed as side dishes. Although, condiments were used to describe foods that have been pickled or preserved, these days condiments have encompassed a larger group of foods and the meaning of condiments has altered to include various kinds of foods over a period of time.
Pre-packaged condiments, these days, are easily available for a single serving use in convenient packets or tiny individual wrappings, such as tomato sauce, ketchup or mustard. These takeaway condiments are usually offered along with fast food or takeaway meals. A number of dishes also call for adding condiments into the dish prior to serving, for instance a cheeseburger topped with mustard or ketchup just before it is being served. While on the other hand, some condiments are added during the process of cooking to enhance texture or flavour to the food, for instance chilli sauce, teriyaki sauce, barbecue sauce or Marmite, amongst many others.
The word condiment is derived from the Latin term - condimentum, which means flavouring, spice and sauce; and from another Latin word - condere, which means to season, pickle or preserve. Condiments were extremely popular in ancient Rome as an ancient cookbook known as ĎApiciusí published in the early fourth century dedicates a particular section only for condiments. Early Romans invented new condiments known as garum and liquamen that became so popular it led to a blooming condiment industry that flourishes to this very day.