Condiments and sauces historically have acted as wingmen, prompters, understudies, or rescuers of a food item. But with global flavor and health trends driving modern culinary creation, these former afterthoughts are more about building up, and even sharing the stage with, the objects of their intention.
Making food taste better or taste different is an ancient practice born of necessity. Spices, salt, alcohol, and vinegar preserved and protected food (especially animal and animal-derived products) and consumers from the negative effects and flavors of spoilage. With the advent of other means to protect food, sauces and condiments took on the role of enhancing otherwise bland or unexciting foods that were economical and utilitarian.