CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 08: A pedal operated tomato sauce station ahead of the EFL Trophy match between Cambridge United and Fulham U23 at Abbey Stadium on September 08, 2020 in Cambridge, England. Cambridge United are allowing limited number of spectators (1000) to be in attendance as covid 19 pandemic restrictions are eased. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
Food - Drink
What Is A Condiment, Really?
Everyone loves condiments, but this category of ingredients doesn't have a straightforward definition. Merriam-Webster describes condiments as "Something used to enhance the flavor of food," but by that standard, a number of ingredients could fit the bill; therefore, culinary experts are weighing in on what a condiment really is.
Chef Julya Shin told the Kitchn that "A condiment is a sauce or seasoning that is applied by the consumer (not the cook) to customize the flavor of the dish." In a somewhat similar sentiment, Dona Savitsky of Doña Tomás says that "A condiment is something you serve with an already-made dish that doesn't necessarily need it."
Shin and Savitsky's descriptions align with the Collins dictionary definition, which says that condiments are "added to food when you eat it." That's not to say that condiments can't also be used as ingredients, as Shin points out that "soy sauce in a marinade is a seasoning, but with sushi it's a condiment."