Mintel, a leading global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence, creates an annual list of what the hot new year’s flavors will be among American food enthusiasts (and those who make packaged products and restaurant meals for them). Here’s what Mintel predicts you’ll be enjoying in 2010, with our comments in italics:
1. Cardamom. Intensely aromatic with a strong flavor, cardamom will find a home in more than just ethnic fare. Cosmic Chocolate recently launched a chocolate bar flavored with cardamom and oranges. (Hmm…not exactly news to chocolatiers. We’ve been enjoying Donnelly Chocolates’ Five Spice chocolate bar with cardamom—and other chocolatiers—for years. And, along with lots of people, we’ve been baking cookies with cardamom—not exactly “ethnic fare.”)
2. Sweet Potato. Candied, fried, baked or boiled, sweet potatoes are not just a delicious snack or side dish. Mintel predicts that they will become known as the new functional food: rich in dietary fiber, beta carotene and vitamins C and B6. (Is this news? Can we have another bag of North Fork Sweet Potato Chips, please?)
3. Hibiscus. The USDA has said that consuming hibiscus tea can lower blood pressure. In the future, expect to see it become a common ingredient in the beverage market. Premium Essence Water from Hint now offers Hibiscus-Vanilla flavored water. [A couple of beverages, including the OOBA line of hibiscus-flavored sodas, do not a galloping trend make. The real hibiscus is very tart; bottled beverages use a bit of hibiscus and round it out with other red fruit flavors. With the small amount of real hibiscus in any popular drink, it’s best to stick with the teas as a remedy.]
Honeydew-hibiscus unsweetened water
from Hint. Will hibiscus be the next pomegranate?
4. Cupuaçu. The taste of the Amazon, cupuaçu is the next big superfruit. It contains more than 10 vitamins and antioxidants, as well as essential fatty acids and amino acids. Musselmans launched a lime and cupuaçu flavored apple sauce showcasing this unique flavor. [This may be a media hit: Anything both unpronounceable and called “superfruit” is bound to captivate the U.S. imagination. But Americans have not yet mastered açaí. That’s ah-sigh-YEE, not ah-KIGH.]
5. Rose Water. Rose water is no longer just a fragrance. You can look forward to finding it as a common flavor in ethnic foods or, like Ghalia Organic Desserts in Los Angeles discovered, you can add it to your brownie recipe for a subtle rose water flavor. [Not news: rose water is a very popular ingredient in Middle Eastern and Indian foods, and has been adopted by fine pastry chefs and chocolatiers for quite some time.]
6. Latin Flavors. Latin spices will be heating up our palates next year, and you won’t have to dine out to get these exciting flavors. Whole Foods Market now offers a Mayan Ceviche; meanwhile, Icelandic Salsa Shrimp Cocktail features a spice packet loaded with the popular Latin flavor of cilantro. [Hasn’t Latin food been the biggest trend of the decade? Peruvian food—predicted by Mintel a few years back, hasn’t quite made it to the forefront, though.]
We wish you many gustatory adventures in the new year.