Here’s my new year ritual. Once I’ve finished goal setting and vision boarding, I quickly click McCormick.com. This company provides global consumers with a wide variety of spices no matter if you’re in India, Spain or Jamaica. The same experts who create these spice blends also publish a Flavor Forecast every year. It’s like fashion week but tastier as you anticipate the latest flavor trends across the world. Flavor Forecast 2018 focuses on East African, Japanese, Chinese and American cuisine. But there’s no reason why the Caribbean should be left behind. Let’s break down the five major predictions.
Handheld Flavor Fusion
Handheld simply means street food and more specifically wraps. According to Mc Cormick, gyros arepas and dessert bao buns will be highly popular. It reminds me of the year I discovered banana and strawberry jam roti in the middle of a Chinese food market. Not amusing when you haven’t eaten an authentic curry roti in years but right on time for this forecast. Another interesting Caribbean fusion would be exchanging the curry channa of baras for roasted wild meat. We’ll see how this trend develops during the year.
Globetrot with Hot Pot
Hot pot is more than a spicy broth to cook your vegetable and meat kebabs; it’s a historic meal that celebrates preseverance. And if you want to find the best Hot Pot, travel to Chongqing-The Hot Pot capital of China. Unless you do it Mc Cormick’s way. Season your broth with smoked spices and chili, serve with Central Mexican favorites such as corn, pork and black beans and garnish with avocado and fresh herbs. The West Indian version consists of the catch of the day cooked in a spiced coconut milk broth.
Drink to Your Wellness
From breakfast to lunch, it is possible to drink your body to health. Mc Cormick suggests greens and bold flavors such as cucumbers, dandelion greens, ginger and turmeric. However, we are so fortunate on this side of the equator to access a plethora of plants. I would add Aloe or Cochineal Nopal leaves to breakfast smoothies, Moringa leaves to soups and Sage to mock-tails for Caribbean twist.
Japanese Izakaya Bites
Izakayas are these Japanese gastropubs that take a happy-hour approach to the menu by serving starters and drinks. Kebabs, prawns and noodles are prepared in celebratory fanfare. But what’s mandatory are stuffed fried rice balls, miso sake sauce and good, home-made furikake seasoning. If you are unable to access these ingredients, try finding the nearest Japanese fusion restaurant before the end of the year.
A Bite of East Africa
The best part of East African cuisine is it’s lack of pretense; what you taste is what it is. This year the spotlight is on Berbere-an essential Ethiopian spice blend used to season meats and lentils. It’s a potpourri of chili powder and all your favorite spices and is the cornerstone of Ethiopian cuisine. Another highlight is Miskaki-Tanzanian BBQ skewers served with tomato onion sauce. Papaya is used to tenderize the meat and lemon to open the appetite. Have fun experimenting with these bold flavors!
It’s been a while since the forecast has highlighted the West Indies so these year’s feature (Globetrot with Hot Pot) deserves commentary. Many persons associate Caribbean cuisine with coconut and pineapple. ONLY. But very slowly there has been a shift in appreciation for all Caribbean offerings. With tours like Savor the Spice and events like The Grenada Chocolate Festival, patrons and locals are understanding the rich yet evolving complexities of our food culture. So I remain hopeful.
I believe 2018 will stretch our imagination as we battle with the effects of climate change on our harvesting seasons and as we seek to satiate the ever increasing appetite for earthy flavors. I’ll document as much as I can. I only hope you stick around for the journey.