& Ethnic Food
to love ethnic foods. Entrees once considered distinctly ethnic,
such as pizzas, pastas and tacos, have become comfort foods for
many, particularly young people. Italian, Mexican, Chinese and
other ethnic cuisines are as common as meat loaf and mashed potatoes.
While canned spaghetti,
frozen egg rolls and shelf-stable taco shells enjoy popularity,
American palates are becoming more sophisticated and adventurous.
Consumers are seeking variety, "new" flavors, good presentation
and, sometimes, a little spiciness in prepared foods. As a result,
three trends are clearly developing.
First, mainstream consumers desire greater authenticity in ethnic
foods. Consumers now understand that "true" ethnic flavors
come in regional styles. Thus, instead of Oriental or Chinese
food, consumers are seeking Cantonese, Hunan or Szechwan cuisine.
Second, the popularity of regional American cuisines, such as
Creole or Southern cooking, is growing, and these cuisines are
becoming more authentic as well. They also are adopting flavors
from other cuisines. For example, Creole cuisines are replacing
their heavy sauced flavors with lighter, fruity and hot flavors
from Caribbean Creole, Asian and other ethnic cooking.
Third, ethnic foods
are redefining the concept of the entree. In the future, we will
see fewer entrees with a large piece of meat as its centerpiece.
Entrees will feature smaller servings of meat, combined with exciting
side dishes of rice, legumes and pasta. Meat and fish will come
well-seasoned in sauces, or as part of a one-dish meal.
Can food manufacturers
profit by creating new ethnic and regional entrees? Absolutely.
Creative food designers can develop ethnic entrees, authentic
and acceptable to mainstream consumers, by using more "real"
ingredients or by fusing ethnic flavors or ingredients with traditional
American cooking. Food designers can give familiar foods a new
ethnic twist, but, at the same time, not shock consumers with
extreme changes. Even conservative taste buds can venture into
By creating authentic
ethnic entrees, food manufacturers also may capture sales from
those seeking "healthy" foods. Consumers are more concerned
now than in the past about nutritional value. Demographic changes
will prove influential: The population will increasingly be comprised
of larger percentages of those who are more youthful and affluent,
as well as those who are elderly and well-traveled.
Consumers will be
demanding more varied, flavorful, healthful and freshly prepared
foods. Ingredients and preparation techniques used in authentic
ethnic cuisines will meet this growing demand. Ethnic dishes will
emerge that feature phytochemicals or other ingredients that boost
energy or perform healing functions.
Moreover, wise food
product designers are recognizing that mainstream America is becoming
more diverse. Demographic studies show a significant increase
in ethnic populations, and even more dramatic growth is predicted.
An ethnic upper middle class also is emerging with growing affluence
and buying power. Mainstreamed ethnic products can reach the second-
and third-generation ethnic consumers who want a little less authenticity.
With the growing demand
for convenience foods and home-meal replacements, food product
designers need to develop prepared entrees that are authentic
and appealing, for grocery shelves, delis or freezers. When creating
these new ethnic entrees, technical and sourcing issues need to
For mainstream American consumers, the most popular ethnic foods
within the last 15 to 20 years have been Italian, Mexican/Tex-Mex
and Chinese, followed by Greek, Japanese, Cajun and Creole. Demand
continues to grow for these cuisines, but tastes are changing.
Consumers now want the "real" thing. Demographics, media,
travel and ingredient availability are making consumers more knowledgeable
about authentic ethnic products. Consumers' appetites for variety
and stronger flavor profiles also are creating this demand. These
cuisines will continue expanding in popularity, because now their
regional flavors are gaining greater acceptance. Consumers want
Sardinian, Ligurian or Tuscan cuisine, not just Italian. They
want Yucatan, Oaxacan or Veracruz-style food, not just Mexican.
They desire Cantonese, Szechwan or Beijing dishes, not just Chinese.
To develop these regional ethnic entrees, food product designers
must understand regional ethnic cuisines, including their preparation,
ingredients, and how meals are put together.
Italian foods have come a long way. Canned tomato-based sauces
and heavy cream sauces are being replaced by lighter, fresh tomato
sauces with olive oil, fresh herbs and roasted flavors. Great
regional variety exists in Italian foods. Food product designers
can take advantage of these regional tastes to create exciting
Italian entrees. Tuscan foods use lighter white wines, olive oil,
garlic and fagioli (beans). Around Rome, dishes feature diavolo
(a spicy marinara), marsala wine and pizzas. In Campania, black
olives, mozzarella, marinara and capers are popular. In Sicily,
lemons, olives, fish and almonds prevail. In Sardinian dishes,
pecorini cheese, roasted flavors and fruits dominate. Black truffle,
pastas and fennel are frequently used in Umbria. Ligurian cooking
contains aromatic herbs, pine nuts and pesto. Dishes from Lombardy
have butter, polenta and celery. In Piedmont, white truffle, fontina
cheese and ravioli predominate. Venetian dishes typically contain
scampi, rice and black pepper.
also are learning that Tex-Mex foods differ from authentic Mexican
foods. They now realize that Mexico offers distinct flavors that
vary among the country's geographical regions, influenced by different
cultures, ingredients and climate. In northern Mexico, flavors
are milder with plenty of cheese, pinto beans and beef. The Pacific
coast offers poblanos, ceviches and pozoles. Oaxacans, because
of an indigenous Indian influence, enjoy black beans and spicier
sauces. Yucatan cuisine uses hot habaneros, achiotes and chilmoles.
Dishes from the Veracruz region, with its strong Spanish influence,
contain more seafood and fruits.
Food preparation and
presentation techniques also differ among cultures, and will provide
important ways of creating flavors for ethnic products, particularly
when designing refrigerated home-meal replacements. In Mexico,
the way masa is prepared and cooked varies with the finished product
- whether tortilla, chalupa, taco or tamale. These products also
are presented differently in the Yucatan, Oaxaca or the northern
regions - with fillings or toppings, baked or fried, steamed in
corn husk, banana leaf, or maguey leaf.
their meals by preparation method, whether grilled, steamed, simmered,
deep-fried or vinegared. Japanese meal presentation often artistically
combines different cooking techniques, creating balanced flavors,
textures and colors.
Spice it up
Cultures that eat hot and spicy foods are influencing North American
eating habits and tastes: Mainstream consumers want more zip and
thrill in their foods.
The demand for more picante and spicier taste profiles, together
with the demand for comfort foods with a "new" flair,
are making Cajun, Creole and other Southern regional cooking resurge
with more sophisticated flavors. These cuisines are re-emerging
with more authentic ingredients, such as andouille sausage, file
powder, Tabasco and jalapeño chile peppers.
While heat will be
part of the flavor profile, the new products will not be accepted
solely on their heat. Chile peppers will now be added for flavor,
texture and color. Consumers will expect the food industry to
fully utilize spices and chile peppers to create more authentic
gumbos, blackened fish or barbecued entrees. In addition, Cajun
food will increasingly combine other ethnic ingredients or flavors
to create Caj-Mex, Caj-Caribbean or Caj-Chinese.
In the past, most
food manufacturers ignored African-American cooking, because many
soul-food recipes relied on cast-off cuts of meats, fried foods,
gravies or vegetables with smoked ham hocks. This is changing.
Currently, culinarians and restaurants nationwide are reviving
soul food with more healthful concepts. Also, as the trend for
comfort foods and authenticity grows, so will the demand for new
soul-food dishes that are produced using traditional approaches,
but include lighter ingredients.
originated in the slave quarters of Southern plantations, and
has influences from Cajun, Creole and Tex-Mex foods," says
Wilbert Jones, president, Healthy Concepts, Inc., Chicago. "Since
soul food began as a poor man's food, the basic flavorings are
salt, onions, black pepper, cayenne pepper or vinegar-based sauces."
African-American foods form the building blocks of mainstream
comfort foods, Jones says, such as fried chicken, barbecued ribs,
roast turkey, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. Comfort
ingredients, such as collard greens, mustard greens and black-eyed
peas, are great entree components.
Food developers should
seriously target the "new" African-American tastes.
"Typically, African-Americans cooked soul food at parties,
weddings, and Sunday dinners and do not cook soul food on a daily
basis," Jones says. Therefore, soul-food entrees that are
easy to prepare will have a ready market. Entrees for the new
generation of African-Americans can include foods with some Caribbean,
Creole, Cajun or even Chinese flavors.
Rethinking the basics
Food designers need to know that basic components of an entree
are changing due to ethnic food's increasing popularity. Ethnic
entrees often emphasize side dishes or are in the form of one-dish
meals. They will offer more complex flavor combinations, and exciting
sauces and seasonings.
Flavors derived from side dishes will represent the next emerging
trend. Entrees might not continue to focus on big chunks of beef,
pork or chicken. In many cultures, a meal's quality isn't measured
by a main dish, but by a range of diverse side dishes that add
varied flavors, textures and aesthetic appeal. This diversifies
the flavor in a meal, and no single flavor predominates. In particular,
the health-conscious mainstream consumer will seek smaller portions
of meat combined with vegetables, legumes or rice.
Can entrees be developed
that incorporate a variety of side dishes? Food product designers
might consider looking to the Japanese for ideas because, in their
cuisine, side dishes provide an important source of variety and
aesthetic appeal. Japanese box lunches, or O-bento, consist of
white rice and an assortment of small side dishes of meat, fish,
vegetables, egg, fruit or pickled plum. One popular meal is kaiseki
ryoi, which features an exquisite array of a dozen or more tiny
side dishes artfully arranged on a table, complementing a basic
meal of boiled rice, miso soup and pickles. The side dishes contain
meat, fish, poultry, pickled daikon or other vegetables. Food
presentation is important in kaiseki ryoi. The side dishes that
are round are served on square or rectangular plates; the foods
that are square are served on round plates, with sculptured vegetables,
sisho flowers or colorful daikon.
Many ethnic cuisines
blend together the concepts of entree and side dishes to form
a one-pot or one-dish meal. For reasons of economics or convenience,
ethnic groups have one-dish stews, soups, stir-fried noodles or
fried rice. These typically contain meat, chicken or vegetables,
topped with sauces or condiments. One-dish meals of noodles, rice
or legumes enjoy substantial popularity in Asia and Latin America.
They come in many varieties, each with its own unique flavor.
However, the addition of ingredients for these one-dish meals
isn't random. Ingredients are chosen and added to create a balanced
system of taste and texture.
Food designers can
create tasteful one-pot meals that are convenient, healthful,
upscale and authentic. Large or busy families will enjoy these,
which can be prepared with seasoned meat, chicken or seafood,
and various vegetables as lunch or quick-fix dinners. Additional
ingredients can be added or attached separately so consumers can
place their own final touch on the meal.
Food product designers
also can develop one-dish entrees using pastas or rices with appropriate
sauces. Pasta products, in particular, offer designers endless
possibilities for one-dish meals possessing appeal for mainstream
and ethnic consumers alike. Find/SVP, New York, reports that nearly
three out of four adults eat a pasta meal for dinner at least
once every two weeks. Dry dinner and entrees account for 28% of
all pasta dollars.
Pasta dishes are attractive
because they're easy-to-prepare and, with the right ingredients,
economical and healthy. Many upscale, imported pasta shapes and
pasta sauces are growing in popularity because consumers are seeking
the "real thing" - whether olive oil, roasted flavors
or cheeses. Home-meal replacements that include pasta achieve
popularity because of convenience. Macaroni and cheese is still
popular, especially with young people. Lighter versions of these
can be created, with upscale flavor and variety offering universal
A convenient one-dish
ethnic entree, pizza has surpassed hot dogs and hamburgers as
children's favorite meal, Find/SVP reports. Microwavable premium,
ethnic-type pizzas containing varied and healthful ingredients
for toppings, and which rise like fresh bread when baked at home,
will attract teenagers and singles seeking convenience and variety.
Combining the complex
Another way ethnic entrees differ from traditional American entrees
is in their complex flavors. By combining spices, seasoning, and
chile peppers, these entrees offer greater variety, more healthful
ingredients and stronger flavor profiles. By using several ingredients,
hot, sweet, sour, savory and aromatic sensations can be created
all in one bite. This combined flavor perception is beginning
to appeal to mainstream consumers.
The Chinese have mastered the art of combining complex flavors
in one bite. The legacy of Szechwan regional cooking is blending
the five opposing tastes from basic ingredients to create a successful
flavor release: sweet from sugar or fruits; sour from vinegar
or tomato; bitter from fried garlic or vegetables; hot from ginger
or chiles; and salty from bean pastes. Heat is either an initial
or final flash, with other flavors being released one at a time.
Hoisin, pungent bean pastes, five-spice blends and smoky flavors
enhance many vegetable, pork and chicken dishes in China's northern
regional cooking. Cantonese cuisine employs simple cooking techniques,
such as stir-frying, braising and steaming with garlic, ginger,
light soy sauce and vegetables to create subtle, yet great flavored
and textured sauces.
entrees present thick cuts of meat or fish, sometimes unseasoned
and sauceless, but this is changing. Consumers want marinated
meats with sauces that are more seasoned and fresh. Most authentic
meat entrees are marinated and cut thin, thereby providing more
intense flavors. The Mexican comida, or main meal of the day,
often features puerco asado (a thinly cut marinated roast pork),
pollo parilla (grilled marinated chicken) or ropa vieja (shredded
beef), accompanied by soups, salads, pickled onion, rice and beans
Mexican entrees offer
excitement because of a fascinating array of salsas and moles
produced from chiles, tomatillos, pipian, beans and chocolate,
with herbs and spices. They are scooped over everything - rice,
tacos or meat - and provide the entree with flavor variety. These
sauces contain dried, smoked or fresh chiles that provide color,
flavor and heat, tending to enhance and provide a background note
for spices and other flavorings. Mexicans have mastered their
knowledge of different types of chiles in these sauces to achieve
great taste, aroma, mouthfeel, color or bite. If chile extractives
are used in processed entrees, they need to provide flavor in
addition to heat.
Training the taste
Food product designers face a challenge. An ever-growing number
of mainstream consumers want more authentic ethnic flavors. Mainstream
consumers are becoming increasingly aware of typical ingredients
used in ethnic foods, whether through a dish they ate in a restaurant,
on vacation, or at a bodega around the corner. How can true ethnic
flavors be developed that meet this demand, yet not alienate other
To create great ethnic entrees, food product designers don't need
to compromise on ingredients or the cooking process. Rather, they
need to reduce or effectively substitute the more flavor-intense
ingredients, such as chile peppers, fish sauce or fermented bean
A second method involves
creating fusion dishes that combine authentic ethnic ingredients
with traditional American foods. "Authentic ethnic ingredients
blend well, such as risotto with jalapeños or pesto with
cilantro," says Michael Joy, corporate chef, flavor division,
McCormick & Company, Inc., Hunt Valley, MD. "This is
where consumers are heading."
Ethnic groups traditionally
have used wraps - tortillas, pita breads, Mandarin pancakes, dosais
or other flatbreads as meals or snacks. These are emerging as
fusion lunch entrees with diverse fillings, including spicy, stir-fried
vegetables or rice with beans. Joy expects wrap kits to grow significantly.
This entree concept appears popular with mainstream consumers,
and has increased sales of grilling products, marinades and dry
spice blends for meal solutions.
"Wrap kits -
either frozen, refrigerated or dry - will contain everything needed
for a meal," Joy says, "such as tortillas, various fillings
(shredded chicken or beef, vegetables, beans, cheese, rice, chile
peppers) seasonings and condiments.
replacement, the consumer wants ownership of meal, a combination
of buying a prepared entree with an array of seasonings from which
she can choose," he explains. "These wrap kits will
appeal to the working parents, singles, as well as teenagers,
who would enjoy putting the wrap together, thereby giving them
Another way to create
interesting fusion entrees is combining authentic ethnic side
dishes of rice or risotto with traditional American meals. Rice
is becoming popular with mainstream consumers because of its nutritional
and nonallergenic properties. When we create rice products, we
need to be aware of their varieties, their properties after cooking,
and textural preferences.
show a significant increase in ethnic populations and even more
dramatic growth is predicted. But ethnic consumers also are becoming
more mainstream. Not all Italian, Hispanic or Asian consumers
are interested in only foods from their native countries. New
ethnic, fusion and regional American dishes are ideal for this
growing ethnic market.
Food product designers
must consider generational differences and adaptation to newer
cultures when developing ethnic entrees. A second- or third-generation
ethnic consumer may desire her grandmother's home cooking, but
with some traditional American notes. As the newer ethnic groups
mingle with mainstream Americans, new concepts of traditional
entrees will evolve from Mexican, Chinese, Soul, Cajun or Italian
Healthful and tasty
Consumers are becoming more concerned about nutrition. A growing
mature population won't only be demanding more varied and flavorful
foods, but also those that are healthful. Ingredients and preparation
techniques used in authentic ethnic cuisines will meet this demand
for healthier meals. Ethnic entrees that feature spices or other
ingredients will be used as natural healing sources.
Consumers also are seeking flavorful vegetarian foods, and Native
Americans, Chinese, Indians and Japanese have mastered great-tasting
versions of these. A great future exists in vegetarian dishes
or vegetarian substitutes for mainstream Americans desiring authenticity.
Ethnic vegetarian entrees can capture the entire market, from
strict to semi-vegetarians, as well as consumers seeking low-fat
or reduced-fat meals.
Ethnic entrees that
feature phytochemicals and other important micronutrients will
grow in popularity. In this regard, soy-based products will increase
due to their many apparent nutritional benefits, such as alleviating
menopausal symptoms, preventing osteoporosis and reducing cholesterol.
is increasing, whether as meat substitutes, fresh tofu or a seasoning.
Tofu, a freshly packaged soybean product, is popular in Chinese
entrees; it's typically eaten in stir fries, dips, salads and
as toppings. It provides a distinct texture, and takes on the
flavor of any ingredient with which it is cooked. It can be mixed
with spices and other flavorings to create healthful entrees.
Unfortunately, a tofu that can be used in entrees has yet to be
"Using the current
flavor technology and freeze-dried products, these soy products
can taste like real chicken or beef," says Carl Hastings,
Ph.D., executive vice president, research, development and manufacturing,
Reliv International, Inc. Primavera, one of the company's healthy
pantry products, which is low-fat, cholesterol-free and rich in
isoflavones, delivers these health benefits. The company's dishes
contain high protein (soy isolates with texturized soy protein),
with other plant sources containing phytochemicals and micronutrients.
Another issue in creating
authentic dishes is ingredient availability and price. "Until
some of the ingredients become produced in large volumes or become
mainstream," Hastings says, "the price for these soy-based
products will be more expensive than the nonvegetarian-based products."
Herbs, spices and
chile peppers that contain many of the micronutrients and important
phytochemicals are like "comfort" ingredients for many
ethnic groups. Spices and chiles possess nutritional and medicinal
properties, in addition to meeting consumer needs for strong flavors,
variety and natural status. They provide a good source of vitamins
and minerals, and contain negligible fat and sodium levels. Preparation
techniques of spices and chiles in authentic ethnic cuisines bring
out much more intense and powerful flavors nonexistent in mainstream
cooking. Hence, they will increasingly be used to season reduced-fat
or reduced-salt entrees.
Chile peppers provide
excellent sources of vitamins A and C, with some containing four
times more vitamin C than an average orange. Cholesterol-free,
these peppers provide a good source of folic acid, potassium,
protein, fiber and trace metals. Many ethnic groups have traditionally
used chiles for treating pain and wounds, respiratory diseases
and digestive problems.
Healthful ethnic dishes
using legumes are increasingly popular because of their stronger
flavor profiles. Legumes can be used whole, pureed or ground into
flour, and incorporated into entrees such as stews, soups, wraps,
noodles or rices. Legumes can stretch a meal and, at the same
time, provide texture and mouthfeel to a finished product. More
seasoned and gourmet-style, bean-based entrees promise to achieve
Every culture eats
legumes, whether Italian, French, Hispanic or Asian, with regional
and cultural preferences. Future interest in legumes will focus
on their nutritional properties. For vegetarians, legumes are
a way of balancing the amino acid profiles of grains or vegetables.
Authentic ethnic vegetables
and fruits are increasingly popular. They provide variety, visual
appeal and nutrition through their many flavors, colors, cuts
and textures. They are now being used to substitute meat-based
roux in some restaurant meals. A great variety of ethnic fruits
and vegetables are available, such as leafy greens, eggplants
or tropical fruits. Numerous methods exist for preparing ethnic
vegetable dishes, including steaming, stir-frying, pickling, chutneying,
or seasoning and serving dry.
Consumers want prepared ethnic entrees to taste fresh and natural.
Consumers perceive crispy and crunchy vegetables, aromatic bright
herbs, firm-textured basmati, or al dente-textured pasta as natural.
Achieving this goal of freshness depends, in large part, on the
ingredient selection and treatment. The challenge for food manufacturers
is developing fresh-tasting products capable of quick and easy
Fresh ingredients have flavor volatility, textural and stability
problems, especially under processing conditions (freezing, cooling
or heating). Entrees designed for supermarket shelves, delis,
cafeteria steam tables, freezer cases or produce sections require
different specifications for ingredients, processing, handling,
packaging and shelf life. Quick-cook forms of rice, herbs or vegetables
usually don't have the original texture, color and aroma of their
A strong preference
exists for prepared ethnic entrees using new spices and ingredients.
Certain spices have a crossover appeal with different ethnic groups.
These include ginger, garlic or black pepper. However, with other
spices, regional preferences exist. When formulating foods with
spices or chile peppers, food technologists need to know the varieties
of such ingredients and the processing techniques that create
a particular flavor profile. The various spice forms significantly
affect flavor, texture and mouthfeel, as well as functionality
in a food system. Pungency or flavor intensity varies with the
nature of the entire product system, whether starch-, gum-, water-
or oil-based, and whatever its pH and heating methods. These factors
can balance, negate, augment or add zest to the entire system.
also must be aware of spice properties before and after cooking.
For a given spice, different preparation techniques will yield
different flavors and colors. Knowing the way spices interact
and function in a food system is important for proper substitution
of ingredients, whether for reasons of availability, economics
or toning down strong authentic profiles or textures. To understand
all this, one has to learn the basics of regional ethnic cuisines
before technically putting together a refrigerated, frozen or
Legumes have to be
cooked at appropriate temperatures for proper digestion. Cooking
time varies, depending on legume size, age and tenderness. Lentils
take less time to cook. Food technologists need to know the varieties
of lentils or beans and optimum cooking times for whole, hulled
or split forms. It is important to understand why beans are rinsed
and soaked before cooking, and why certain spices are added.
Pasta and rice entrees
that are packaged in quick-cook or instant form, need to retain
their original fresh aroma and texture. Consumers want instant
noodles that resemble the original texture and taste when rehydrated.
Proper cooking times and water levels are very important for obtaining
the right textural qualities in cooked rice products. Cooked rice
must be cooled quickly to maintain optimum texture. White or brown
rice can be precooked and dehydrated, reducing cooking time. But
as with frozen rice dishes, flavor and texture become a problem.
Holding rice at refrigeration
or higher temperatures can promote starch retrogradation. Rice
also gives off some liquid when thawed, creating a drier end product.
Short- and medium-grain rices have more amylopectin and are more
resistant to starch retrogradation. They also tend to absorb less
moisture over time.
Long periods of cooking
and high temperatures adversely affect pasta texture and color,
making it starchy and soft. Therefore, for retort and steam-table
products, the type of flour and stabilizer used becomes important.
Also, to reduce overcooking, retort pasta should be rehydrated
more slowly than pasta for home use. Increasing wall thickness
and adding ingredients for slowing the cooking process or starch
gelatinization becomes critical.
plays an extremely important role in perception of freshness.
Mainstream consumers are being exposed to a variety of vegetables
and healthful cooking techniques that preserve original freshness
and crunchiness. Cantonese cooking is unique, because the wonderful
colors, flavors and textures of vegetables are brought out through
steaming and stir-frying techniques with little or no seasonings.
Cooked vegetables and herbs need to maintain these "fresh"
bright colors, crispy textures and aromas consumers now desire.
Traditionally prepared vegetables become mushy, and possess a
boiled taste and dull visual appeal. But although freeze-drying
provides appealing cuts, colors and sometimes tastes, it does
not yet match the original textures and mouthfeel that fresh vegetables,
herbs or fruits provide.
Fresh vegetables and
spices are consumers' first choice. The challenge then for manufacturers
is determining the best way vegetables or other ingredients can
be developed, yet still maintain acceptable taste and texture
An increasing number of consumers are willing to pay the price
for more healthful and fresh ingredients. This has led to an increasing
interest in organic foods. Certain products tend to be perceived
as authentic and natural when they have authentic ingredients.
Consumers link olive oil to authentic pasta sauce. When consumer
eat stir-fried vegetables, they link crispy and crunchy to authenticity.
Similarly, when someone eats a frozen Japanese meal, he expects
a sticky textured rice or a close substitute instead of converted
rice. Therefore, a consistent and reliable source for these authentic
ingredients should exist.
Some authentic ingredients aren't available in forms readily incorporated
into processed foods. And if they do exist, they might lack the
original flavor or texture profiles. Food designers have to substitute
some of these with available ingredients, which sometimes changes
the taste. When mainstreaming or adding a little more authenticity
to ethnic entrees, how well an ingredient has been substituted
or toned down in the entree is critical.
For example, chipotle
possesses a unique flavor with a deep, smoky taste. Merely adding
a smoky note and high heat isn't enough to capture its characteristic
note, but flavor technology exists to create desired flavors.
When a flavor supplier provides a chipotle flavor, designers should
thoroughly examine its flavor profile and not simply rely on the
supplier for direction. Its flavor needs to be evaluated alone
as well as in the particular dish in which it is used. Ingredients
increase in intensity, tone down or create quite a different flavor
profile when cooked with other ingredients or when prepared in
a certain way. Technology still has not provided good or matching
flavor and texture profiles of many nonstandard chile peppers,
spices and herbs. Since today's consumers are becoming more educated
about ingredients, they will recognize these differences.
American consumers are becoming more adventurous, so food designers
should be more innovative. Food product designers need to create
more authenticity in ethnic entrees to offer variety and exciting