Impact upon health, including Garlic, a food to lower cholesterol and other herbs and spices shown to provide some protection against cancer
According to a Prepared Foods article, Turkey’s geographic location gives its food a unique “fusion” character – its dishes reveal roots from the Mediterranean, Middle East, Asia and Eastern Europe – a melding of different cultures, tastes and styles.
The article states food historians often describe Turkish cuisine as fusion food, because many of its dishes came from the Mediterranean, Middle East, Eastern Asia and Eastern Europe. A typical Turkish breakfast might include Menemen, sucuk and black tea.
Menemen is a dish made with eggs, chopped onions, sliced tomatoes, green peppers, paprika, a spice mixture (oregano, mint, black pepper, ground red pepper and salt), and green or black olives, and is cooked in olive oil or butter. This dish is a reflection of the Mediterranean.
Sucuk (sometimes called pastirma) is a casing sausage made with ground beef, cumin, garlic, salt and red pepper.
Black tea, which comes from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, is served as a Turkish breakfast beverage usually sweetened with sugar or honey.
Although not eaten for breakfast, manti (dumplings) with dried meat, one of Turkey’s popular dishes, is eaten for lunch or as a side dish for dinner. They are made with flour, semolina, eggs, salt, dried beef or lamb, onions, bread crumbs, water, yeast, salt, paprika, black pepper and parsley; and are usually steamed or boiled.
Most Turkish spice markets carry their own version of bahart, which is the Arabic word for spice. A typical Turkish bahart consists of a ground mixture of cloves, coriander, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and paprika. It is used to season grain, vegetables and kebab dishes.
Like most countries, bread is an important staple in Turkey. Many home cooks and bakeries make simple, daily unleavened bread called yufka, containing only flour, salt and water. These ingredients are mixed (kneaded) together and allowed to rest a half-hour. Then, they are separated into round balls, rolled into thin sheets in the shape of circles and baked on a heated griddle (aka, sac) for one minute on each side.
Kebabs / Ayran
According to the article, the most common ingredients found in Turkish kebabs are lamb, beef, chicken, fish and shellfish. Typical Turkish kebab meals are eaten with yogurt and a salad. Yogurt is one of the most utilized food ingredients in Turkish cooking. It is mainly used as a sauce for many dishes--it helps balance spicy meat and vegetable dishes. There is a popular beverage called Ayran (yogurt drink), made with yogurt, iced water and salt. It is usually consumed with a kebab meal.
Eggplant is used in hundreds of recipe dishes throughout Turkey. The applications range from baked, fried, stewed, grilled, marinated or pickled. One signature dish is an eggplant stew, made with eggplants, olive oil, onions, tomatoes, lemon juice, parsley and ground pepper. This dish is usually served over cooked rice or some other kind of grain.
Turkey is surrounded on three sides by seas--the Black Sea, Marmara and Mediterranean. Therefore, fish is a major food in the Turkish diet. One popular fish soup dish is made from fish, onions, parsley, carrots, potatoes, rice and lemons. Fish dishes are usually eaten cold and are generally smoked, canned, salted, or pickled.
Turkish Street Food
The article notes the following foods are commonly available for purchase throughout Turkey:
- Döner kebap - consists of chunks of lamb, chicken or beef, placed on a large, vertical skewer, which allows the meat to cook very slowly against an open flame. Once the meat is cooked, it is sliced (like American-Greek gyros), placed on a piece of flat bread and topped with a spicy tomato sauce or yogurt.
- Kumpir - a large baked potato, sliced in half and stuffed with various ingredients, such as spicy mayonnaise, sliced olives, pickles, cooked peas, mushrooms, corn or cheese.
- Simit (a type of Turkish doughnut) - a staple breakfast food and is made with flour, salt, olive oil, butter, water, milk, eggs and sesame seeds (for topping).
Baklava - a sweet pastry made with buttered phyllo dough, layered with honey, nuts (usually walnuts) and spices.
MINTEL PREDICTS 2010’S TRENDY FLAVORS
Cardamom and sweet potatoes will lead the list of trendy flavors used in food products next year, according to Mintel.
A Marketing Daily article says the research firm expects the intensely aromatic Indian spice cardamom to crop up not just in ethnic fare, but many kinds of foods. Mintel also predicts sweet potatoes will become “the new functional food” because of their high fiber, beta carotene and Vitamins C and B6 content and their preparation versatility (they can be candied, fried, baked or boiled).
Other key flavors in the year ahead will include hibiscus (expected to become a common ingredient in beverages beyond tea, now that the USDA has said that it can help lower blood pressure); cupuacu (the “next big superfruit,” offering more than 10 vitamins and antioxidants); rose water (becoming a common flavor in ethnic foods); and Latin herbs and spices such as cilantro.
REGIONAL AMERICAN SAUCES AND GOURMET-FLAVORED FOODS
Traditional American foods, featuring sauces, regional and ethnic flavorings, and fruits result in distinctive regional cuisines.
According to a recent Prepared Foods article, farmer’s markets across America feature vendors selling some type of fruit preserve, jelly or pickled product. For years, sweet fruit sauces have been paired with savory entrées and side dishes. Classic examples are cranberry sauce with roast turkey and stuffing/dressing, mint jelly with roasted lamb, sweet cherry sauce with roast pork tenderloin and peach chutney with baked ham.
Meanwhile upscale caterers constantly re-invent themselves by exploring more exotic flavors of the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. Signature foods that reflect these regions of the world have a combination of sweet flavors, paired with savory dishes.
Sweet with Savory
For years, Americans have been enjoying savory salads with sweet dressings. Now some prepared foods reflect this trend even further, boasting added heat to the sweet and savory flavors. For example, a salad-style entrée at one eatery consists of spicy chicken salad on romaine lettuce, with a black bean relish and Black Diamond white Cheddar, served with a chipotle vinaigrette. Another dish commonly seen is Thai barbecue beef short ribs. For a meal without the heat, one might opt for a honey and lavender-glazed, split-roasted Amish chicken.
The article states that not long ago, the Asian foods eaten in America consisted of mostly Chinese-style dishes, such as sweet and sour chicken, fried rice with a sweet and sour sauce or soy sauce, and egg rolls with a plum sauce or a duck sauce (a thick, sweet and pungent, orange-flavored Chinese condiment). Today, Thai, Japanese and Korean foods have penetrated the palates of Americans. Thai foods are by far the most popular of these newcomers. Dishes such as Pad Thai noodles are not only served in restaurants, but are being manufactured by many mainstream companies, both under national brands and private labels.
The Heat is On
There is still a trend for spicy flavors in America and also a demand for gourmet-inspired, tasty products. Such product flavors include Red Chili Basil (enriched flour, canola and extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, crushed red chili pepper, dried basil, dried garlic, cayenne pepper); Serrano Lime (enriched flour, canola oil and extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, Serrano pepper powder, dried parsley, lime oil); and Chipotle (enriched flour, canola and extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, dried chipotle peppers, dried garlic, dried onion).
Further Reading: Nothing More American…or Regional
Grilling foods with barbecue sauces may stand alone as representative of American cooking. Yet, each region of the U.S. has tended to have traditional approaches to both. Additionally, such sauces can be creatively customized through the addition of other food components.
As many consumers, restaurants and food processors alike have discovered, the creation of unique and enticing sauces can be crucial to many a dish.
FLAVOR SECRETS: CURRIES FROM THE PACIFIC RIM
Curries are important ingredients in many of the Pacific Rim nations, but they differ greatly from country to country. According to a recent Prepared Foods article, to an American whose idea of curry is the scent of curry powder, curries in some of these lands will not seem like curries at all. But students of authentic Indian cooking have long known that curries differ widely in their spicing, depending on the type of food being flavored.
The article defines the following curries:
Gaeng Ped Moo is a pork and vegetable curry from Thailand. Fish sauce, lemongrass, sugar and mint also contribute flavor. The curry paste is sprinkled heavily with paprika for color; seasoned with onion and garlic; and spiked with red pepper, lemon peel, ground coriander seeds and cilantro. These are ground to a paste in oil and water.
Gulai Daing Lembu is a Malaysian beef curry that calls for coriander, fennel and cumin seeds, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, turmeric, nutmeg, red pepper, ginger, plus onion and garlic, lemongrass and coconut milk.
Chicken curry in Burma contains onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, red pepper, cardamom seeds and cilantro. The spices, ground with oil and sautéed until thickened, are used to coat the chicken, flavoring it while it cooks.
A TASTE OF REGIONAL AFRICAN CUISINE
Africa is the second largest landmass on earth. A May 1 Prepared Foods article notes common African ingredients, such as egusi, sorghum and the pilau spice, have started showing up on the menus of African-inspired, U.S. restaurants. The article states the culture and cuisine in many of this continent’s countries are as diverse as the geographical regions of the U.S.
Here's a look at some culinary characteristics from each of the continent's three geographic regions – Northern, Central, and Southern:
Northern Africa includes countries such as Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Mauritania and Egypt, which boast cooking techniques and flavors similar to Mediterranean cuisine. Common flavors and ingredients for North African cooking include: lentils, garlic, tomatoes, oregano, cilantro, turmeric, cloves, cumin, eggplant, extra virgin olive oil, green bell peppers, red onions, parsley, chickpeas, couscous, black olives, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, harissa vinaigrette (a fiery chili paste), pine nuts, tabbouleh, raisins, carrots, honey, shallots, Dijon mustard, saffron threads, paprika, and apple cider.
Central Africa covers a large portion of the continent, from eastern Somalia to western Senegal to northern Mali and the southern Congo. Here, there are Spanish, British, Portuguese, French and African influences in the cooking techniques and ingredients used. Common ingredients that can be found in Central African cooking include: Grains of paradise, sorghum, peanuts, egusi (dried melon seeds), pilau spice (a mixture of ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, cloves and saffron strands), rice, beef , chicken, onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, tomato paste, tomatoes, coconut milk, fufu (fermented cassava dough, a starch-and-water-based alternative to baked bread), lime, curry, yucca, benne (sesame) yogurt, pitas, chick peas Madagascar vanilla, dark chocolate, and coconut.
Southern African cooking often called the rainbow cuisine, with immigrants coming from India, Indonesia, China and Europe, and bringing their cultural traditions with them. Malay cuisine is the most recognized Southern African cooking in America (a melting pot of European, Asian and African cooking). Some examples of these ingredients and foods include: curries, chutneys, pickled fish, fish stews, lamb kebabs and peri peri sauces. Peri peri is known as Africa’s hottest chili pepper. It is used as a condiment or marinade to season beef, seafood, poultry, and vegetable or egg dishes.
Greece is the Word
Greek cuisine is one of the oldest, most classic cuisines known to Western society. Greek cooking is also very diverse. Some dishes can be traced back to ancient Greece (such as trahanas, skordalia, and lentil soup), while others represent the Hellenistic and Roman periods (like loukaniko). As such, a full list of representative dishes is difficult to present. Greek influences on modern cooking are plenty and probably incalculable.
According to Prepared Foods, the cuisines of the Mediterranean overlap at the countries’ borders resulting in various cooking techniques and/or ingredients. Typical Greek cuisine uses olive oil, oregano, Feta cheese, olives, phyllo dough, cucumbers and eggplant, and garlic and lemon juice. The recipes tend to utilize simplicity (as in so many Mediterranean cuisines).
An example of Fusion is taking a classic dish, such as melitzanes mousakka (layers of seasoned ground [or minced] lamb or beef, sliced eggplant and tomato, topped with white bechémal sauce), and using an Asian eggplant rather than Greek eggplant. Or, it could be a new spice profile. It is the fusing of a new technique with old, classic ingredients. Avgolemono (‘egg-lemon soup’ traditionally consisting of chicken, red meat, vegetable or fish broth thickened with eggs, lemon juice and rice) might be given a ‘fusion update’ by using lemongrass instead of lemon. This would add more intense lemon flavor with other spice notes to create a trendier, Greek fusion dish.
Grilling, braising, stewing and roasting are the most common techniques used and legend has it that the classic, Greek slow-cooking technique originated from the Klephts, who would steal lambs or goats and cook them in a sealed pit to avoid the smoke being seen. As such, the Greek word Kleftiko translates roughly into ‘stolen meat.’
Prepared Foods noted Greek food has excellent health benefits. It fits in squarely with the Mediterranean diet and studies in the 1950s found that residents of the Greek island of Crete had one of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world. This, of course, led to Mediterranean cuisine being almost synonymous with ‘heart-healthy.’”
Popular Greek seasonings and ingredients include the following:
Source: Gilroy Foods and Spicetec.
- Anise – Breads, biscuits
- Bay leaves – Sauces, meats, stews, baked fish and poultry, seasoning, dried fruits
- Cinnamon – tomato and meat sauces, stews, cheese piece, sweets
- Coriander/Cilantro – Fresh leaves, in bean and vegetable dishes; dried seeds, in sausages, pork, dried beef
- Cumin – white and red sauces, sausages, meat stuffings for vegetables
- Dill – sauces, stuffings, pickles, salads, soup and stews
- Mahlepi – Easter bread, holiday cakes and cookies
- Mastic – Easter bread, cakes, pastries, sweets, liqueur
- Mint – Red sauces, meatballs, rice stuffings, cheese pies, tea
- Oregano – Meatballs, lamb, salad, fish, sauces, seasoning, dried fruit
- Paprika – Lamb and beef skewers, dried beef
- Rosemary – Roasted and grilled meats and fish
- Rosewater – Sweets
- Orange flower water – Sweets
- Sumac – Grilled meats, stews, pita wraps
- Thyme – Lamb, rabbit, fish, potato dishes
Listed below are the top favorite flavors (listed in order) of regular (full fat) salad dressing, determined by The Association for Dressings & Sauces based on data provided by a nationally-recognized database.
Red Wine Vinaigrette
Some Like It Hot
How boomers' failing taste buds are shaping the future of American food
If you have browsed a supermarket in the last few years, you can't help but notice the shelves are on fire with items labeled with ‘Spicy Guacamole,’ ‘Hot 'n' Spicy Buffalo Style’ and ‘Cayenne Garlic Hot Sauce.’
Well, restaurants are no different. McDonald's has its Chipotle BBQ Snack Wrap and Friday's has its Wicked Wings. The spice-driven cooking of India, Thailand, and China is responsible for the increase in American takeout dollars every year. It's obvious that Americans have developed an addiction to spicy foods.
Why is hot so hot? The explanation is that the nation has an increasingly adventurous palate. Immigration and prosperity have made Americans more sophisticated eaters, pushing wasabi peas into the mainstream, along with chili-Thai lime cashews, cayenne chocolate bars, and other high-octane combinations.
But some food scientists and market researchers think there is another reason for the broad nationwide shift toward bolder flavors: The baby boomers, that huge, all-important demographic, are getting old. As they age, they are losing their ability to taste - and turning to spicier foods.
Chiefly because of degenerating olfactory nerves, most aging people experience a diminished sense of taste, whether they realize it or not. But unlike previous generations, 80 million boomers have broad appetites, a full set of teeth, and the spending power to shape the entire food market.
"There's no question that as the baby boomers are aging they're losing their taste buds, and as a result they're drawn not only to more spicy foods, but to more flavorful foods of all kinds," said Phil Lempert, a food market analyst who runs SupermarketGuru.com, which tracks consumer trends in supermarkets and restaurants. "So we're seeing sweet things be even more intense in their sweetness. And look at sales of salsa," he said. "First the big seller was mild, then medium, and now hot, and that really correlates with the population boom."
Older adults have the highest preferences for boldly flavored cheeses, such as blue, feta, and Gorgonzola, according to Sloan Trends Inc. in Escondido, Calif., which tracks behavioral and consumer habits in food and nutrition.
Increased spiciness is just one of many ways the wealthiest, most influential demographic group in history is changing how we eat. Market research shows boomers have helped drive consumer demand for organic foods, grab-and-go foods, nutritionally enhanced products, and fresh local produce.
What's known is that at a certain age - after about 40 for most people - the number of nerve receptors in the nose and tongue that respond to smell and taste dim and decrease. As that happens, complex flavors become duller. Sweet and sour tastes decline sharply; salty and acidic tastes remain brighter for longer.
A list of foods in the sensory irritant category reads like a roster of modern flavorings: habanero, jalapeno, black pepper, horseradish, ginger, cinnamon. All of them - generally lumped together as "spicy" or "high-flavor" - help kick up the overall sensory experience of eating.
Top 10 Culinary Herbs and Spices:
Flavorful and Functional
Research is turning up the heat on zesty herbs and spices, pointing out that a spicier life may be a healthier one. Such findings seem to support what people have been saying for centuries – culinary herbs and spices may treat all manner of maladies.
The following 10 culinary herbs and spices show particular promise for promoting good health.
Found in turmeric and curry powder. The components curcuminoids appear to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties with potential activity against cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic diseases. In addition, it is linked to reduced susceptibility to cancer with a decreased occurrence of leukemia and cancers of the prostate, breast, and colon, which is most intensively studied. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties also promote wound healing.
Within the apricotlike fruit of the myristica fragrans tree lies a kernel, whose covering yields the fragrant spice nutmeg. Nutmeg displays bactericidal activity toward Helicobacter pylori and E. coli 0157:H7. Animal studies have also demonstrated an antidepressant-like activity. Nutmeg intake should be watched closely, as 1 to 2 ounces of nutmeg have been known to cause prolonged delirium and toxicity.
Cinnamon has been studied for its antioxidant capacity and antimicrobial effects and for its role in insulin activity. Active ingredients, polyphenol polymers, act like insulin. Researchers have found that cinnamon has a possible modest effect in lowering plasma glucose levels I patients with poorly controlled type 2 diabetes.
Cayenne Pepper is a concentrated source of capsaicin, the powerful phyochemical that gives chiles their heat and appears to have chemopreventative activity. Capsaicin and its relatives are also powerful analgesics.
Garlic contains substances that are being studied for their anticancer effects, including allicin, allixin, allyl sulfides, quercetin, and organosulfur compounds. Some evidence shows that consuming one half to one full clove of garlic daily may have a significant cholesterol-lowering effect. Garlic consumption has also been associated with anti-clotting and blood pressure reduction.
Oregano has one of the highest antioxidant activities among 27 culinary herbs and 12 medicinal herbs, ranking even higher than fruits and vegetables. Oregano also presents antimicrobial activity against pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli.
Rosemary possesses antioxidant and antimicrobial activities linked to its polyphenol composition. Studies have also demonstrated its chemopreventative action. Aromatherapy effects have also been shown to relieve pain and improve mood.
Ginger is a mixture of several hundred known constituents, including, gingerols, beta-carotene, capsaicin, caffeic acid, curcumin and salicylate. It is being studied for numerous uses such as an aid for pain and nausea. Some compounds in ginger have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. In addition, ginger exhibits cancer preventative activity in experimental carcinogens.
Peppermint has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. The phenolic constituents of the leaves include resmarinic acid and several flavonoids such as eriocitrin, luteolin and hesperidin. The main components of the essential oil of peppermint are menthol and menthone. Peppermint has significant antimicrobial and antiviral activities as well as significant antioxidant and antitumor actions.
One of the most medicinal plants widely used in several countries to reduce plasma cholesterol and the risk of atherosclerosis-related diseases. Basil extract boasts antioxidant substances that have shown some protection against carcinogen-induced cancers.