As the prophets once said: “When you’re feelin’ sad and low … People of the world/Spice up your life.”
And by prophets, I mean the Spice Girls. So in the new year, take their cogent advice and stop eating bland food.
You can start by adding tamarind to your meals. The spice has been named McCormick & Co.’s flavor of 2024, because salt and pepper (or Old Bay) alone just won’t cut it. The seasoning company plans on building the sweet and tangy spice into limited edition items at the national burger chain Black Tap Craft Burgers & Beer starting in February.
“For nearly 25 years, McCormick has forecasted global flavor trends through our Flavor Forecast report,” said Tabata Gomez, chief marketing officer at the Maryland-based company.
It’s unclear what spices tamarind beat out for the heavyweight title of “flavor of the year.” But its crowning comes as chefs and wannabe-chefs alike are increasingly relying on acidic, vinegar agents to add dimension to their dishes, according to a McCormick & Co. release. The “sour power” of the pod-like tamarind fruit gives that palate-opening taste to every bite, turning rich, overpowering meals into something more nuanced and interesting to dig into.
The spice has traveled across Africa, India and the Middle East and gone on to make an imprint on Latin American, Mexican and Caribbean cuisine. It’s a favorite among dishes promising to fuse various cultures. The spice is versatile, whether it be adding texture to an airy ceviche to cutting the richness of a breakfast poutine.
McCormick has coined a new word (at least new to me) to honor what tamarind brings to a meal: Newstalgic, meaning “what’s old is new again.” The word builds on the seasoning’s ability to help chefs reintroduce childhood favorites “with a gourmet twist,” according to the company’s statement.
“This year we’re thrilled for people to experience the taste, versatility and tang of tamarind,” said Hadar Cohen Aviram, executive chef and a manager of culinary development at McCormick.
So whether tamarind is new to you or you have a container of the spice tucked away in your cabinet, explore your options and do more than salt and pepper in 2024. We’re better than this.