What makes something taste Italian or Lebanese or Moroccan? Whether mixing vinaigrette, seasoning chicken or developing the layered nuances of a soup, understanding the flavors of ingredients that help to define various cuisines can be extremely useful.
Every cuisine has its regional variations. For example, Basque cuisine is vastly different from the classic dishes from Provence, but they’re both French.
Consider this a shorthand reference to a few culinary stereotypes. For those of us who can’t make the trip to the Mediterranean region, market products can bring these flavor experiences closer to home.
Don’t overdo it. Try incorporating two to four ingredients from a cuisine group to take a flavor profile in the general direction you’re going for.
The signature flavor profiles of several different Mediterranean countries as such are:
- Italian — garlic, onions, celery, basil, pesto, prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, mozzarella cheese, pine nuts, tomatoes, artichokes, olives, olive oil, oregano, lemon, fennel, flat-leaf parsley, red pepper flakes, rosemary, white beans, balsamic vinegar. Dishes from southern Italy are described as “riotous in color and combination” by epicurean.com, which also cites “an abundance of white truffle” as a regional mainstay.
- Greek — oregano, lemon, olives, tuna, rosemary, bay leaves, thyme, olive oil, lamb, garlic, feta cheese, tomatoes, red onions, fish, shellfish
- Indian — tandoori spices, garam masala, curry, yogurt, coconut milk, basmati rice, tamarind, cardamom, cumin, coriander, cilantro, fennel, garlic, saffron, fenugreek, dried chilies
Millennials are turning out to be adventurous investigators of new flavors and international foods, so it isn’t surprising to learn that a report on college food trends found that college students today crave Mediterranean food, particularly offerings such as grilled chicken souvlaki kabobs, paella, spanakopita, couscous chicken stew, pesto pasta bowls, and Spanish tomato bread with Manchego cheese. Top 15 flavors desired included: 1. Black Pepper 2. Sea Salt 3. Cucumber & Dill 4. Roasted Garlic 5. Apricot 6. Cheese 7. Tomato 8. Lemon 9. Roasted Red Peppers 10. Jalapeno Pepper 11. Eggplant 12. Spinach 13. Plum 14. Mushroom 15. Onion
From bright flavors like lemon, parsley, apricot, and mint, to warm, savory flavors like garlic, cumin, and black/red pepper, Mediterranean flavors offer consumers a range of tastes for a variety of categories. Experience flavors from around the Mediterranean at Paymon’s Mediterranean Café and Lounge at either of our Las Vegas area locations.