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Modern Mediterranean. Classically Mindful.

Chef's Notes

Modern Mediterranean. Classically Mindful.

February 2018 | RON, SENIOR RESEARCH CHEF

To define the future of food, sometimes we need to look to the past. Current trends towards farm-to-table and mindful eating are nothing new. In fact, these “trends” are the basic tenets of authentic, old world cuisines that have been served for centuries in the regions surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Out of this tradition comes classic dishes like cassoulet, brandade, handmade cappelletti, prosciutto and melon, moussaka, marinara sauce, Beef Wellington, and yes, even meatloaf.

It’s a style that’s never fallen completely out of favor. In fact, the concepts have been essentially repurposed and recently rediscovered here in America as, “Modern Mediterranean.” While firmly rooted in the classics, Modern Mediterranean also encompasses so many of the trends today’s consumers are embracing: not only farm-to-table and mindful eating, but also global cuisines, sustainability, nose-to-tail dining, pickling and fermenting. These are all practices that have been part of the Mediterranean diet for millennia.

When it comes to healthy eating, the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid is quite different than what many Americans are accustomed to. In fact, it essentially flips the script. The base of Mediterranean Food Pyramid is filled with foods that are eaten freely and abundantly: nutritious whole grains, protein-packed beans and legumes, and copious amounts of fruits and vegetables. At the very top is meat, something Americans are used to seeing featured at the center of the plate, but in the old world, it is something that would be served very infrequently, and almost always in small portions.

When the cook is given a seemingly endless allotment such as a bounty of summer tomatoes, it’s never a struggle to eat your vegetables. When preparing tomatoes in the old world style, quality is paramount. A hearty Mediterranean dish doesn’t require hours of prep or tons of steps–in fact, it’s discouraged. A fussy preparation overshadows the natural beauty of the produce, which often requires little more than a quick sauté, a high temp roast, or a light toss in some bright vinaigrette.

Whole grains like farro, freekeh, wheat berries and millet are a world away from grains more familiar to the American palate. Diners are trying them because they’re healthy, and quickly end up hooked thanks to their complex flavors. Fish and seafood, the Mediterranean protein of choice at the center of the diet pyramid, are full of heart-healthy omega acids.

This new/old way of cooking is quite influential on what we’re doing here at Brand Aromatics, a division of McCormick that specializes in culinary flavor bases. When working with clients we’re able to focus in on a particular style, or span an entire line of Mediterranean-inspired soups, stocks and sauces, bringing in influences from different Mediterranean regions—North Africa, West Indies, and Southern Europe. In the tradition of chefs on the coast of the Mediterranean, we too can create a wide variety of flavors using the same simple ingredients to classically mindful flavor solutions.

To create your next flavor through the McCormick Difference, contact your McCormick account representative or contact us today.

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