The chapter on marinades in Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades leads off with "The Only Marinade You'll Ever Need." Somewhat Mediterranean in origin, there's almost nothing (including vegetables) it doesn't go well with. It's best used within a couple hours of making.
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. hot pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
4 strips lemon zest
3 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, cilantro, dill, oregano, or a mis of all four
As for why certain herbs and spices are used, it's because they have either a traditional or natural affinity for a particular food, or they help build a desired flavor profile, especially ethnic ones.