Culinary Chronicles by Chef David White

With every New Year the question, “what will this year bring,” allows us to ponder the positive possibilities. This year not only do we ponder collectively, we hope, pray and hunger for the challenges to diminish and for the tide to turn. As we all engage in a myriad of ways to turn the tide, I’m certain many of us find time to day dream about activities, we hope to take up once we reach the other side.

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I know I’m not alone in my day dream; the aspirational desire to re-engage with others, to share a meal, to raise a toast, to celebrate together. I can’t wait! However, until then, I’ll be happy with the food-geek activity of poring over the many 2021 Trend reports and predictions focused on the world of food. I consider these reports, like our 2021 Top Flavor Trends that occurs in every new year, to be akin to a meteor shower. To be gazed upon with a sense of wonder and anticipation. Where are they going? Will they enjoy a sustained run that brings them back around year after year. We don’t yet know the answers and therein lay the fun. Let’s hitch our imagination to these trend meteors and see where they take us in 2021. It’s never a dull or disappointing ride.

Here at Symrise Flavor North America we have identified 12 top flavor trends; each one a stand-alone trend and each one fully capable of finding a connection, at multiple levels, with any of the other 11 trends. This is a characteristic of food that is so exciting…so many connections and so many ways to connect.

For example, one of our 2021 food trends is “Embracing Legumes.” We find legumes woven throughout cultures and communities around the globe. Take the chickpea for example. Originating in the Mediterranean and Middle East, it is now found across the globe and interwoven in global cuisines. You might consider it a standard bearer for an embraced legume as it is featured in so many dishes – hummus, falafel, chana masala, balela salad, leblebi to name a few.

Interest in legumes has skyrocketed over the past few years with a Napa, CA company, “Rancho Gordo” leading the way. The interest has been so great during the past year there is now a wait list for their heirloom beans. Currently they are sold out of 22 varieties. Fortunately, with the elevated interest, you may be able to find local farms growing heirloom bean varieties. I encourage you to search them out as the best way to experience legumes and beans is when they are “fresh” (less than 2 years old). I stocked up this summer when I was back in my hometown of Bowdoinham, ME. “Fairwinds Farms” grows some of the best legumes I’ve ever had. I came home with my 2 favorite legumes – Yellow Eye Beans and Jacob’s Cattle Beans. If you’ve never had the pleasure now’s the time. They are two outstanding varieties.

RELATED: Culinary Trends in 2020 Take a Global Perspective

When fresh, the individual characteristics of a variety are best highlighted; characteristics being texture and flavor. It’s my experience, here in North America, we tend to eat beans in preparations that completely hide their personality and we serve them as an accompaniment. Let me encourage you to utilize the following simple preparation. This preparation highlights the qualities of the bean and illustrates that simplicity, many times, can deliver a 3 star experience.

SIMPLY COOKED BEANS

A couple of things to know – 1 cup of dried beans will yield about 3 cups cooked beans; the more fresh the bean, the less time required for soaking. Having said that, soaking is not a requirement for cooking beans; this step only speeds the cooking process

     1 lb. dried beans (try Lupini Beans, Aquafaba or Mung Beans to experience one of our 2021 flavors)
     8 cups ambient water
     2 Tablespoons olive oil
     1 medium Spanish onion, peeled and quartered
     3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
     1 stem each fresh rosemary and fresh thyme
     1 fresh bay leaf
     2 teaspoons kosher salt

Directions: place beans in large bowl, cover with cold water and let soak overnight. Drain beans and place in large soup pot. Add the 8 cups ambient water and then the remaining ingredients except for the salt. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat, lower the flame to keep at a very low simmer. Simmer partially covered for about 1 to 1.5 hours. Add the 2 teaspoons of salt and continue cooking until beans are tender. During the cooking process, be sure to add water if needed to keep the beans covered.

Remove pot from heat and let beans cool for 30-45 minutes. Discard onion, garlic, herbs and bay leaf. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle with EVOO. Serve.

Yields approximately 6 cups

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