Is there a reason we use salt and pepper on so many dishes and can be found in any kitchen table at dinner time? Does it have to do with their flavor synergies or were they just more available "back in the day"?
Salt is perhaps the most basic and effective flavour enhancer, and so it's fairly obvious why we have it on our dinner tables.
The popularity of pepper is down to the Romans, who were crazy about it. Thanks to the longevity of the Roman Empire, pepper was imported for hundreds of years, helping to establish it as the most popular spice, and keeping the price high.
Bill Bryson reports in At Home that: