Today's consumers are continuing down a path of gastronomic adventure in their pursuit of hotter heat, tangier sours and edgier flavor combinations. Bigger, bolder and more unusual flavors are increasingly available from a variety of new sources, according to the"Extreme & Edgy Flavors: Culinary Trend Mapping Report"from theCenter for Culinary Development(CCD) and market research publisherPackaged Facts.
"Consumers around the globe are thrilling to new, bigger, bolder flavors and unique flavor combinations," says Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD. "Our palates are being pushed in all kinds of sweet, salty, sour and bitter directions, while new flavors tempt us from the edge of the culinary ingredient spectrum."
Egan says CCD's proprietary five-stage Trend Map profiles seven emerging and accepted flavors that are transporting consumers to new flavor places. They come from three primary sources:
From the Wild: Fine-dining chefs are playing with two new ingredients found in forests and along water banks.
-- Aromatic Douglas Fir tips are adding delicate, citrusy and woodsy flavor to meats, sauces, cocktails and desserts.
-- Sea Buckthorn, a noted superfruit and common ingredient in Chinese medicine, provides a tangy punch and bright orange color to sauces, cocktails and beverages.
From Global Cuisine: Foreign ingredients are finding their way to more places across the U.S. food landscape, bringing their extreme and edgy flavors with them.
-- Exotic Japanese Yuzu, a variety of lime, has a distinctive floral, tart flavor that chefs and mixologists are applying to Japanese and other fine dining cuisines as well as cocktails, marinades and sauces.
-- Puckery Tamarind, found in Latin, Indian and Southeast Asian foods like Pad Thai, hides out in many common condiments but is being used more openly in chutneys, simmer sauces and beverages.
-- Chocolate and Chile, an age-old combination in Latin America, has moved up the Trend Map and is now appearing in brownie mixes, women's magazine recipes and popular lines of chocolate bars, adding warming heat to beloved chocolate.
-- Wasabi has become mainstream, evolving from a sushi accompaniment to being a full-fledged flavor profile for snacks, condiments and more.
From the Past: Bitter flavors have traditionally dominated in medicinal foods due to barks, roots and herbs used to heal. These same ingredients flavor Cocktail Bitters, Italian Amari aperitif spirits and Bitter Beers, all popular today in bar and cocktail culture, and a sign of consumers accepting bitter flavors more easily.