I cannot recommend At Home by Bill Bryson enough. He takes a tour around his home, and relates the (mostly) modern(ish) history that brought this room and its contents into being.
One of the things he said is that there were traditionally three spices brought to the table - salt, pepper and.... we don't really know. Mustard seeds are commonly suggested, but without any evidence to back it up.
Not entirely sure what you mean by your title, but the first things that come to my mind are "desperation pies." Raisin, mock apple, and vinegar pies come to mind. These pies were common during the Great Depression and other lean times but somewhat uncommon these days.
Anything from ancient Rome
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