Partly Saffron With a Chance of Anise

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I always get a kick out of the McCormick Flavor Forecast; it’s usually just the right blend of pulse-taking and McCormick sales job. Sure, sometimes it gets a little heavy-handed – last year, one of the flavors listed was Pickling Spice, which I suppose was a response to the huge increase in home pickling that we all saw coming for 2005. It was really launched by the sudden nationwide fascination with German cuisine – as with most food trends, it started with all the German fine-dining restaurants that all the socialites were seen in, feeding their tiny dogs huge sausages, and everyone was experiencing that weekend culinary aspiration, and there were massive runs on cabbage and cucumbers and rings and lids.

Okay, maybe not. And pickles aren’t just German, of course, it’s that cucumbers make for better humor than preserved lemons. Gherkin. Cornichon. Much funnier sounding.

Anyhow, the forecast came out way back in December, but that’s the first story I’ve seen on it this year. For 2006, the flavors are:

Anise – A personal favorite; happy to see it get the nod, though I know fennel will feel shortchanged.
Caraway – This is the one spice I just can’t stand – when I was younger I thought I didn’t like rye bread but I eventually figured out that what I didn’t like was caraway.
Chai – I would quarrel with this one; I think chai was actually probably one of the top flavors of the early to mid-1990s, but it takes a big company like McCormick a long time to come around to some things.
Marjoram – Here here, recognition for the more floral cousin of oregano; I have some seeds of this lovely annual I need to get around to planting.
Paprika – Everything needs paprika. It’s a reliable classic that intensifies savory flavors, adds rich color and promotes browning.
Saffron – What’s left to be said about saffron? The combination of rice, butter, salt, cardamom and saffron combine to one of the most transcendent experiences available in food.
Sesame – Pedestrian? Maybe a little, but not when applied in great quantities, as an alternative to breadcrumbs, or used as a blend of white and black sesame seeds.

This reminds me that I bought a bottle of paprika this week because I need to mix up more of my vaguely-Cajun (Very 80s! It’s retro now! Let’s all wear useless belts over our clothes again and make ourselves look thick in the middle, as they’re the season’s key accessory!) stuff I use for red beans.

Off to the kitchen.

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