Spices are the building blocks of flavor and differentiate one cuisine from the other. Most consider spices to be all of the edible parts of the plant that are used to flavor food. This may include the root, rhizome, stem, bark, seeds, fruit and leafy parts. Other than the English and some Americans, most cultures do not refer to the leafy parts used as seasonings as herbs, since not all herbs are used for seasoning food.
Today in the US we are witnessing a culinary revolution of sorts in the foods we eat and the spices used to season them. Americans are searching for something new, along with greater variety and more intense flavors with spicier and hotter profiles. The US population is becoming increasingly diverse. With these shifting demographics we are being exposed to increasingly diverse foods and the ingredients that go along with them. The foods of other cultures tend to be spicier, sometimes even hotter and are becoming much more commonplace.
In America, while we have become quite familiar with spices such as cinnamon, chipotle, cilantro and ginger, in the last 10 years we are now learning how to use more exotic spices such as fennel seeds, lemongrass, pasilla, star anise, epazote, Thai basil, guajillo and cardamom, etc.
Younger Americans have grown up with a wider variety of ethnic foods and many are eager to experiment with new flavors. We’re seeing this becoming more evident in cross cultural or fusion dishes. And just because they’re aging doesn’t mean that Baby Boomers are quite done influencing the foods we eat either. They’re looking to eat healthier and are becoming more adventurous, especially with meatless meals. But they won’t accept bland, they want interesting flavors to satisfy their palates.
We’re also seeing more interest in the roasting of spices. This is a very common cooking technique used in other cultures. Roasting spices brings out the flavorful and aromatic oils. Roasting spices adds additional depths of flavor especially to Thai, Indian, Moroccan, Southwestern US and Mexican cuisines.
One of the emerging trends that began during the recent economic downturn was the increase in cooking at home. So we will be constantly looking to add new recipes and seasoning blends to our store and website that showcase not only authentic flavors and cuisines, but are also geared for those that crave a familiar food or meal with added seasoning twists and unexpected flavorings.