At some point in time in the US, processed baby food in jars became the standard by which all first foods were to be judged. Because jarred baby food is bland and boring, therefore, baby food must all be bland and boring.
I don't pay any attention to warnings that baby food should not be seasoned, since there's no good reason for them. Most spices and seasonings are good for you, many of them help with digestion, and they all add variety. I regularly add turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, saffron, cumin, basil, oregano, and black pepper to my LO's food. Not all at the same time, obviously.
There IS some genuine concern with adding salt to food for infants. Because babies' bodies are so little, there's a risk than oversalting their food can throw their electrolytes out of whack and harm their kidneys. Breastfed babies get all the sodium they need from breastmilk. Lots of cultures consume WAY more salt than is necessary: I just read yesterday that the average American consumes 3.5 g of sodium every day - about 2.5 times what our bodies need. People in the UK consume even more than that. So we should be really extra careful with the amount of salt we're giving to little ones, because most of us overdo it without even realizing it.
We use almost no salt when we cook at home (DH is really sensitive to salty stuff), so I don't worry about giving DD bits of whatever we're eating. I don't deliberately add salt to food I'm making specifically for her, but I will add a bit of butter or olive oil to her purees if I think they could use it. And herbs/spices, of course.
At the moment, DD (9 months) is sitting in her clip-on chair at the table next to me while I type, happily nibbling on a handful of frozen peas that I thawed in the microwave, a few pieces of leftover roasted cauliflower with dill, half a pear that I cut up in pieces for her (I ate the other half for lunch), and a handful of Cheerios. I, too, dislike cleaning up after messy lunches, but none of those foods require more than a quick swipe at hands and face to clear off the gunk.
Other not-too-messy foods that are my frequent fallbacks: bits of cooked carrot (I just cut a carrot into tiny pieces, boil until soft, then store in a jar in the fridge), small cooked pasta (orzo is good), cooked rice (I usually just give her leftover rice), bits of apple or potato cooked until they're soft but not mushy, frozen green beans reheated in the microwave and cut into small pieces, and the ubiquitous Cheerios. I had to laugh at the PP who suggested blueberries - we tried these this week and they were the messiest thing EVER!!! No way, I'm not trying to scrub blueberry juice out of any more of DD's clothes.
ETA: About avoiding foods - definitely honey for infants (even cooked) because of the very small but dangerous risk of botulism. But also, depending on how conservative you want to be about avoiding potential allergens, you may want to be a little careful about introducing foods like dairy, citrus, tomatoes, wheat, egg whites, and strawberries. At least watch carefully for reactions when you do give them. Allergies to nuts and shellfish can be potentially lethal, which is why they recommend waiting until at least 1-2 years before offering these foods - there's a better chance of a LO surviving an allergic attack at that age, if it happens. And IMO, there's no good reason to give babies chocolate. More for me!