There is one particular moment from my time in the early 1990s as a student at the University of Guelph that really stands out in my mind. I was taking the Cultural Aspects of Food course and we were identifying flavours associated with countries around the world.
There is one particular moment from my time in the early 1990s as a
student at the University of Guelph that really stands out in my mind.
I was taking the Cultural Aspects of Food course and we were
identifying flavours associated with countries around the world.
example, oregano with Italy, curry went with India, the Middle East and
the Caribbean, and so on. Then, we arrived in the United States and
Canada. I heard ketchup, mustard, salt, and, oh yes, maple syrup for
Quebec. I expect over the past two decades, with Canada’s diverse
cultures, easy access to world travel and the ability to download
international recipes, that thyme, rosemary, cinnamon and ginger are
now fundamental herbs and spices in most Canadians’ kitchen (perhaps
along with the ketchup, mustard and salt).
Herbs and spices commonly used in savoury cooking can lend a powerful
and unique taste to many baked goods. Andrew Coppolino, restaurant
reviewer for Waterloo Region Eats and food enthusiast, agrees.
“Standard herbs such as rosemary and thyme have been infiltrating the
restaurant scene for the past decade, injecting interest into the
pre-dinner baguette bread basket,” Coppolino suggests. “The use of a
paprika around the perimeter of the olive oil plate for dipping, is not
only inventive, but a colourful way of incorporating the spice into the
Coppolino describes a pre-dinner bread basket he was served recently
that included a variety of bread types, flatbreads and crackers with
many flavours, herbs and spices. He recalls a very delicious piece of
flatbread spiced with cumin and a mild curry that was an ideal taste
experience at that stage of the meal. Coppolino encourages bakers at
restaurants and small bakeries to move beyond the basic herbs and
spices most people have in the cupboard (rosemary, thyme, oregano and
cinnamon) and develop new and bolder creations. Coppolino would like to
try a crunchy flatbread seasoned with the zaatar spice, which includes
a mixture of sumac, sesame seed and herbs frequently used in the Middle
East and the Mediterranean. Some manufacturers are experimenting with
new twists. Last fall, Canada Bread launched a new line of rye breads
that includes Country Caraway.
“The use of caraway seeds provides a specific taste experience,”
explains Daniel Morin, senior innovation manager of business
development for Canada Bread. “Caraway seeds have a sweet and spicy
flavour, plus crunch that adds complexity to the rye bread.”
Morin details another new product launch, the Oven Ready Rosemary and
Olive Oil baguette, which is sold in a modified atmosphere package of
two. It gets a 60-day shelf life and is aimed at both the lunch and
dinner occasion. People can cook it in eight minutes and have a
bakery-style experience as part of their meal.
“Using herbs such as rosemary is very multifunctional, not only for
taste and texture, but rosemary is known for its antimicrobial
properties, which help extend shelf life.” Morin says to stay tuned to
your local grocer’s bakery department for another flavoured baguette to
be launched in April of this year.
In addition to herbs and spices giving great flavour and texture, along
with some having antimicrobial properties, there is that antioxidant
word again (December 2010, The Final Proof). Many herbs and spices
naturally contain antioxidants. In 2003, to advance the science of
spices and herbs, McCormick created the McCormick Science Institute
(MSI), an independent research organization whose mission is to support
scientific research and disseminate scientific findings on the health
benefits of culinary spices and herbs. McCormick equates a half
teaspoon of an antioxidant-rich spice (for example, cinnamon) to a half
cup of antioxidant-rich fruit (for example, raspberries).
With the amazing world flavours and textures that herbs, spices and
seeds provide in breads, it is good to know these ingredients may also
provide health benefits. So explore and create away! Take a pass on the
“fundamental spice rack,” and let’s see some interesting bread types
for both retail and food service over the next few years.
Jane Dummer, RD, is a leading dietitian
for the Canadian food and nutrition industry. Jane offers services
specializing in agri-food, functional foods and food safety. For more
information, visit www.janedummer.com.
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