Many consumers long for unique experiences. They love to travel around the world, discovering new countries, enjoying new cultures and culinary experiences. But in times of covid-19, travelling is either no longer a possibility or much reduced.
To offer people the opportunity to escape through sensorial experiences, or to reminisce about good memories of past holidays, let’s tap into the magic of flavour. Besides giving food products an authentic taste and improving their texture and mouthfeel, flavours can stimulate the mind. Let’s start an exotic journey around the world together with these 13 flavours.
The flavours of Asia
Matcha tea, a premium and high-quality green tea, is much more than a drink in Japan. For centuries, it has been consumed on very special and spiritual occasions, following a delicate ritual that’s performed with grace and beauty: the matcha ceremony. With its typically vegetal-grassy notes, sweet nuttiness, umami taste and pleasant bitter undertones, one sip of matcha can take you directly to Japan.
Additionally, its delicate taste and vibrant green colour make matcha tea increasingly popular all over the globe. This popularity is reflected in the large number of matcha-flavoured products, like soft drinks, macarons, cakes, ice cream, donuts and desserts, that are available. Take the Matchamatch from Hoeked Doughnuts with a matcha tea ganache and roasted pine nuts for example.
Asia is also home to surprising savoury flavours, which are incorporated into many different recipes. Novelties like the salted egg lava croissant are booming. But if you prefer to take your inspiration from traditional dishes and surprise your customers by reinventing your bread, pastry and chocolate products, another very popular and flavourful ingredient to transport the mind to Asia is black sesame.
The flavours of the Middle East
Let’s fly to the Middle East and take a closer look at rose sharbat, a rose-based drink that is very popular in Turkey and its surrounding countries. To prepare it, fresh rose petals are kneaded with a little citric acid or sugar to release their fragrance. This petal mixture is either mixed with water to make a sweet chilled drink, or used to prepare rose toppings that can flavour desserts like muhallebi (a milk pudding) or cakes.
Rose lukum (Turkish delight) is also a very famous sweet treat that many globe-trotters have had the opportunity to enjoy locally and buy as a gift – a way to offer a floral culinary experience to their family and friends who stayed at home. So why not bring an intoxicating aroma of the Middle East to your customer’s palate with rose?
Let’s jump to Israel where cumin, with its unique and intense flavour profile, plays an important role in Israeli cooking. It is used a lot in hummus, a very popular chickpea dish in Middle Eastern cuisine. Hummus is served on a number of occasions, as an appetizer or starter (e.g. dip with flatbread, mezze) to awaken the senses or as a side dish to falafel, grilled chicken, fish or eggplant.
Serving hummus to your customers not only gives them an exotic experience, it also enables them to surf on the plant-based health-trend wave. Why not create a special savoury bread with cumin and onions or carrots that can complement this Middle Eastern speciality?
The flavours of Latin America
Have you ever had the chance to visit a Brazilian supermarket? If you did, you will very likely remember the walls of shelves full of condensed milk. A kind of all-in-one dairy and sweet ingredient, condensed milk is used in many desserts in Latin America. It is one of the most essential ingredients of the ‘dulcerio’ (a sponge cake which is soaked in thick, sweet syrup) and of the well-known ‘dulce de leche’.
Let’s go to a sunny Caribbean beach. Imagine the palm trees…and enjoying a sweet, tropical cocktail such as a piña colada or a mojito. Today, along with international food companies, many artisans, pastry chefs and chocolatiers offer consumers a chance to dream of their past holidays by combining flavours like coconut and pineapple or lime and mint in ice cream, cheesecakes, bonbons or pralines.
The flavours of North America
The stylised maple leaf on the national flag already gives it away: maple is very popular in Canada. There are more than 100 different species of maple around the world, 10 of which are native to Canada. Most species produce sap that can be used to make sugar. The most notable commercial production of maple syrup comes from the sugar maple tree.
Pure maple syrup is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used as a condiment to sweeten your pancakes or as an ingredient in many confections like muffins, biscuits, pies and fudge.
Smoky or chargrilled flavours are very common in the United States, a country where barbecuing is part of local culinary culture. Why not create speciality breads or buns made with torrefied or roasted malt (which has this kind of smoky touch) to elevate the taste of your hamburgers?
Or why not pair the sweet vanilla taste of marshmallows with a smoky flavour in a dessert? A way to evoke the pleasure and indulgence of time with family (or friends) around a fire under an American sky full of stars.
The flavours of Africa
Take your customers on a safari tour through Africa by using baobab flavours in your products. The baobab tree or monkey bread tree is also called the ‘tree of life’, as it is one of the most important food sources in desert areas of Africa. Locals have used the leaves and fruits for thousands of years for their high nutrient content. Baobab produce is packed with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals, and as the pulp of the fruit contains a lot of fibre, it is used to make porridge or bread. Outside Africa, baobab fruit is mostly available in powder form. Benefit from its nutritional density by adding it to cake batter, smoothies, bread or pancakes.
The taste of rooibos takes your customers to South Africa. The rooibos comes from a small bush called ‘Aspalathus linearis’. Its leaves can be more or less fermented and infused in hot water. The infusion that is obtained from fermented rooibos leaves has a reddish colour, a natural sweetness and a slightly nutty, earthy and woody taste. Rooibos is the soothing drink par excellence as it does not contain caffeine and combines very well with red fruits or pear.
The flavour of Oceania
Anyone who ever visited Australia will remember the acres and acres of eucalyptus forests. But eucalyptus is not only a delicacy for koalas, it also brings an unusual freshness to cakes and desserts. Be careful when you apply this flavour though. There’s a very fine line between tasty and terrible…
The flavours of Europe
By adding Mediterranean herbs like rosemary, oregano and basil to your baked goods, you transport your customers directly to Italy. These herbs go very well with Italian bakery products like pizza, panini, tramezzini or special, soft basil-pesto breads. Loaded with fresh basil, garlic and parmesan, these can bring the sun of Napoli directly to your customer’s table.
These herbs can also be magic when combined with fruit, and bring an extra dimension to your traditional sweet jams or pastries (e.g. rosemary with apricot or raspberry, basil with grapefruit…).
Finally, let’s relax. Breath in, breath out. Let’s finish our journey in the Arctic forests full of birches and spruces. Many leaf and needle blends for infusions, liquors or spirits already exist. They have an invigorating power, giving you a refreshing energy kick.
So why not bring these woody and fresh notes to your chocolate or your bread, for example? Why not make jelly out of it, or prepare pine bark-based cookies like they do in certain Scandinavian regions?
Besides taking consumers on a culinary trip around the world, exotic flavours do a lot more. Curious? Learn all about the functions and benefits of flavouring, or take a deep dive into the flavour trends of 2020.